With all the chaos happening at the national level, sometimes local results get lost in the mix. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is one thing threatened with elimination in President Trump’s proposed budget for 2017, along with several other programs that fund many arts and broadcasting outreach programs. The national repercussions are not too difficult to grasp; however, what does that mean for students at the University of Utah?
Raymond Tymas-Jones, dean of the College of Fine Arts, Associate Vice President for the Arts at the University and professor in the School of Music, had a few things to say about this.
“I think it’ll be devastating to the entire state of Utah. The most significant aspect of the NEA is that it ensures that all Americans, no matter where they live, will have access to artistic programming,” he said.
It’s important to note that the NEA’s elimination would not affect students looking to get Fine Arts degrees at the U, as student tuition and class fees cover program costs. Programs that are supported in part by the budget include UMFA, Pioneer Theatre, Utah Presents and other groups that partner with the U to support, promote and create their art as well as make it available to students in particular to appreciate.
The U itself wouldn’t be seeing too many of the negative aspects of NEA budget cuts since the most affected would be community outreach programs like Repertory Dance Theatre, Utah Symphony and Ballet West, because they rely more on federal funding than the programs directly affiliated with the U.
Many of these arts programs, as well as others in Utah, rely on more than just the NEA to support their efforts. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Corporation for Federal Broadcasting and Institute of Museum and Library Services also contribute funds, and all are being threatened with elimination in Trump’s proposed budget. If it is accepted and followed, museums, arts programs and several news broadcasts throughout Utah specifically, not to mention across the country, will lose the funding necessary to produce their programs, podcasts and other services.
In the last 24 years, the NEA budget has fluctuated as presidents have come in and out of office. The year of 1992 marked the highest budget for the arts at almost $176 million, while the NEA budget for 2016 was $148 million. While the budget is being funded below what it used to be it, it has been increasing over the past few years, which is why those who make up the workforce of the NEA and those who support it have seen hope in pushing for a $155 million budget according to Tymas-Jones. But the proposed elimination may change attitudes surrounding the arts.
Though the future is uncertain, all is not lost yet.
Tymas-Jones explained, “It is important for citizens in our community to become vocal if they have been benefactors of NEA funding in their community, and let their legislative representative in Congress become aware of how important the NEA [and] NEH are in programming in all of our community, and gain the support of our representative so that when it comes up for vote, they will advocate for these institutions.”