By Nestor CASTIGLIONE
President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year made it known that it had trained its sights on the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH), seeking to effectively eliminate them. Part of a whole package of controversial cuts – among them eliminating federal funding to historically black colleges, slashing anti-drug programs, turning back on a campaign promise to boost infrastructure – that were included in a “skinny budget” issued in March by the Office of Management and Budget. Those proposed cuts were ultimately set aside earlier this month when the President signed a bipartisan budget agreement that avoided a government shutdown. Not only were the targeted organizations preserved but both the NEA and NEH called for modest increases in funding.
Nonetheless, arts organizations across the country are spooked, fearful that those cuts may arrive at a later date.
The City of Glendale, which in recent years has been striving to become an “arts hub,” has taken heed of those worries and is considering preemptive action lest the Trump administration makes good on its budget cut threats at a later date.
A report is set to be submitted this afternoon at a meeting of the Arts and Culture Commission that followed a call for discussion at the April meeting for public input regarding the Trump administration’s proposed cuts. According to Sharon Garrett of the Arts and Culture Commission, the NEA funded $90,000 directly to programs in Glendale. The recipients include the Alex Theatre and the Museum of Neon Art.
Her report also finds that the NEA has funded some $32 million in programs within a 15-mile radius of Glendale. Some of those programs that have benefited the city by proxy include the American Film Institute, The Autry National Center, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra currently employs the Alex as one of its two homes.
“Staff concludes that the NEA impact on the arts in Glendale and surrounding communities is very significant,” the report states. “If NEA funding were to be discontinued in 2018, Glendale residents may be impacted with fewer opportunities to experience the arts and culture in the region.”
Garrett intends for the report to “spark discussion about what the City Council should do.” Upon receiving the report, the commission will decide to recommend whether the Council should state its opposition to the NEA cuts.
If recommended by the commission to do so, a motion by Council to express opposition to the cuts may be taken up, a vote to be determined at a later date.