Endowment for the Arts takes hit in 2012 budget

Budget cuts are something Americans hear about often as the U.S. economy is trying to recover. For Obama’s 2012 budget, it looks like the National Endowment for the Arts will take a hit.

The budget for the organization may be decreased by approximately $22 million. The organization funds artists all over the country as they apply for grants toward projects and research. The Endowment for the Arts also funds community projects and groups, museums, galleries, teachers and art education in schools.

“Knowing some of the public school teachers who are aware of the things being cut, whenever there is a money short fall, it tends to come out of art, music or drama,” said Haelim Allen, assistant professor of art. “It is never good to hear (the arts) are what is being targeted. It is a bit short-sighted if we believe students don’t need these avenues of exploration as well as academics.”

Allen said the overall art industry will be affected as a result of this cut, since the arts endowment often serves as the provider for many local groups and community projects.

“Certain nonprofits or organizations will go for those grants every year. If anyone would be reliant upon those funds, it would be them,” Allen said.

In addition, when artists request funding, Allen said it will be more difficult to receive support. Many artists periodically apply for grants on certain projects as opposed to being heavily dependent on funding for their entire income.

“I don’t feel like as many (artists) will be able to start their work,” said Sarah White, junior art major. “They might have to choose cheaper mediums or look for other jobs.”

Ben Watson, senior art major, said he wishes the budget cut would move communities to support the arts.

“I hope culture will engage arts and large amounts of funding from government won’t be needed,” Watson said. “If there is a negative impact, economically and culturally we will be able to improve. If our arts are suffering, then it is up to us to do our part to support the arts and the things that we value.”

He said he feels the cut will not drastically impact the artistic community, since the funding will be taken away from areas all over the country, instead of one central location. Watson said he hopes “there will be no huge gaps.”

“With a deficit as large as we have, it will take drastic measures to make
an impact,” Watson said. “Several hundred million will only be a drop in the bucket. It will take extensive measures to improve debt, and we have to be willing to make sacrifices.”

Whether the budget cut will widely impact the art world or not, Watson and Allen are both hoping it will motivate artists and communities like never before.

“I hope (the National Endowment for the Arts) is efficient and works well,” Allen said. “That is my hope with this shortfall, that they will rise to the occasion, and also at an individual level that we will also rise to the occasion and support the arts.”

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