A bill approved by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations would cut funding for a number of cultural organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, whose budget would be slashed to $75 million for the 2014 fiscal year.
The cuts represent a 49 percent decrease from the agency’s funding for 2013 before Congress enacted a budget sequester. Under the proposal, the National Endowment for the Humanities would receive a cut equivalent to that of the NEA.
Christopher Nadaskay, university professor of art, believes the proposal’s impact on West Tennessee will be minor — unless the arts are defunded completely.
“In that scenario, it will be up to the citizens of West Tennessee to decide that the arts are a wonderful and vital part of our lives and that they are worth investing local tax dollars in for their survival,” Nadaskay said.
He mentioned that the administration actually proposed a 5.5 percent increase over last year’s budget for the arts and humanities, with a significant portion going to towns with populations of fewer than 200,000 people.
However, the plan supported by the House in Congress cuts funding completely for the NEA in this proposal.
Kathryn Buncik, senior digital media studies major, said she feels the strain on the arts is already to the point where the ability to distinguish creativity from a hobby has become a blurry line.
“Art has been very valuable to me and my growth from a child going into adulthood,” Buncik said. “For me, art has helped me process a lot of changes that have happened in my life, and I believe it has the power to do this for others, too.
“Art teaches people to be creative and to think in creative ways, so taking that funding away would mean that you are taking away creativity.”
Changes to the budget will not be enacted until 2014 and will solely be dependent on Congress’ decision.