Gutting NEA Not About Money

Doctors have recently discovered the importance of music and the arts in not only recovering from illnesses; but also in keeping healthy.

There have been numerous studies that have shown children who are exposed to the arts do much better in school; most notably a direct correlation to music and math.

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Medical studies have shown that music stimulates the brain…and not just slightly but by significant numbers. People who simply listen to music have their brains stimulated by 50 percent and people who actually play music get a 100 percent stimulation of their brains.

Yet, the current President of the United States Donald Trump sees a mere .006 percent of the $3.9 trillion of the 2016 national budget – a mere $148 million per year – in the form of funding the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities is a threat and needs to be eliminated from the federal budget beginning October 1, 2017. The proposed budget cuts also include elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which offers a platform many programs created by the NEA.

In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act that created the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Johnson signed the law to “promote progress and scholarship in the humanities and the arts in the United States…in order to achieve a better understanding of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future.”

Doug Wright, Dramatists Guild President suggests that artists use their skills as a form of action to protest the proposed cuts and to express their frustration. Wright goes on to discuss his opinion as to why he believes the cuts are being made, “The arts function as a collective social conscience. Artists are, by their nature, truth tellers. Across the millennia, artists have told damning truths about war, politics, and the darkest reaches of the human heart. Corrupt men have a reason to fear us, and so they’d like to see us silenced. This has nothing to do with money; the NEA is .003 of our annual budget. The military spends more on paper clips. This is all about demonizing artists and the work that we do. We mustn’t forget that.”

When asked about the impact of eliminating the NEA and NEH, Wright said, “it will continue the dangerous, downward spiral presently occurring in our culture. Arts teach us the value of empathy, which is currently in egregiously short supply. Thanks to ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, an African-American girl in Washington Heights can learn what it felt like to be trapped in an attic in Amsterdam during World War II. Thanks to ‘The Laramie Project’, a quarterback in Van Nuys can experience what it feels like to die alone on a fence in rural Wyoming, and feel his heart grow in its capacity to feel on behalf of others. Without the arts, we lose this crucial capacity. Who knows? If our current President actually curled up with a book, he’d improve his painfully limited vocabulary. The quality of our thoughts and our ability to express them are intimately linked. The more exposure we have to the arts, the more nimble we become intellectually.

Monica Simoes of The Metropolitan Opera notes, “the arts are not for the privileged few, but for the many,“

For the past 50 years the NEA has entertained and educated millions of Americans with quality programming.

photo courtesy of By NEA – http://www.nea.gov/manageaward/logos/index.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20712189


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