(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) opposing the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, and calling on the president, his administration, and Congress to instead increase support for the arts was released Monday by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts committee.
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation. As part of its plans to cut government spending, the Trump administration is considering a proposal to completely eliminate the NEA, despite that at $146 million, the organization's annual budget, constitutes a very small fraction of the United States budget.
"The National Endowment for the Arts has been essential to the survival and continued existence of local artists and arts organizations in every state through grant funding," said Vainieri Huttle. "This proposal not only betrays the nation's long-standing efforts to foster artistic expression, which is vital to our spirit and democracy, it also threatens our local communities that currently benefit from the economic activity generated by the funded arts and entertainment programs."
In New Jersey, the NEA annually awards about $800,000 in funding to the State Council on the Arts as the key state arts agency for distribution to artistic projects all over the state, and also disburses a significant amount of funds directly to artists and arts organizations in this state, fostering not only local arts and culture but also the local economy.
The joint resolution (AJR-141) encourages President Trump, his administration, and Congress to increase support for the arts through the NEA. Copies of the resolution will be sent to the President and Vice President, the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the House Majority Leader, the House Minority Leader, each member of Congress elected from this state, and the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
"The arts have been behind the revitalization of many communities that were once blighted. Eliminating the NEA not only threatens artists and arts organizations, but communities that benefit from having a vibrant arts community," added Vainieri Huttle. "I urge the Trump administration to consider not just the cultural, but economic impact of this proposal and reverse course."