Actor Robert Redford defended the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in an open letter this week, amid President Donald Trump’s budget proposal calling for funding cuts to the federal agency.
“The proposed defunding of the NEA’s budget would gut our nation’s long history of support for artists and arts programs and it would deprive all our citizens of the culture and diversity the humanities brings to our country,” Redford wrote in an open letter on the Sundance Institute’s website.
“This is entirely the wrong approach at entirely the wrong time,” the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid star wrote. “We need to invite new voices to the table, we need to offer future generations a chance to create, and we need to celebrate our cultural heritage.”
President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would eliminate the budget for the NEA, which stood at $148 million in 2016. It would also cut the $230 million budget the Institute of Museum and Library Services commanded in 2016, and would completely eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Outrage from celebrities and entertainers reached a fever pitch last week after Trump’s budget proposal was released.
Nevertheless, Redford is urging Americans to put pressure on their Congressional representatives to vote against Trump’s arts program-slashing budget.
“I believe the NEA must not only survive, but thrive. Which is why I’m asking you to please join me in adding your voice to the chorus of concerned citizens by contacting your congressional representative and voicing your opposition to these cuts and in favor of continued support for the role the arts play in enriching our American story,” Redford wrote.
“The historic investment in the NEA has been fractional compared to other government spending but the dividends of this investment in our culture are unquantifiable. More than dollars, the NEA represents a civilization that values critical and creative thought.”
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