As Trump Proposes to End Funding for the Arts, the Arts at Fordham Flourishes
On Wednesday evening, Fordham Democrats gathered for a weekly meeting to discuss President Trump’s plans to make budget cuts to the EPA, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture — along with cutting all funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.
Many of the students were frustrated about the budget proposals as a diversion from the arts.
Eleanor Werner, a junior and President of Fordham College Democrats, said that the cost to fund the arts is relatively low for the free access to programming and broadcasting that funding provides.
“It’s avalaible to everybody,” said Werner. “It’s free information and free public braodcasitng and programming for everybody in America and it costs every U.S. citizen a dollar thirty-five, so it’s not even like this huge detriment to people to continue funding them.”
The National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities both recieved $148 million of the entire federal budget. Both the NEA and the NEH account for less than 0.004 percent of federal spending in 2016 according to the Summary for Fiscal Year 2016 from the Congressional Budget Office.
Although the NEA funds and provides grants for dance, opera, writing, film, theater and other arts organizations in every state of the United States, it also targets arts organizations in rural communities. Programs includes education art programs, with at least 65 percent of the NEA’s direct grants go to small and medium-sized arts groups, keeping the arts alive in rural and underserved communities.
Shared Traditions is one art-education program in Utica, a city in rural, upstate New York. It was started three years ago through NEA funding that works with recent, adult refugees who are styding English as a second lanuage.
Anna D’Ambrosio, the Director of the Museum of Art at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, said that Shared Traditions helps refugees assimilate to the United States.
“They meet once a week at the museum to help develop language skills, to familiarize them with Utica and the collection here, and to use our collection to show them how art is the universal language,” said D’Ambrosio.
Shared Traditions is one of the ways to reach the refugee population in Utica, which is about 20 percent refugees. D’Ambrosio said ending funding for NEA and the NEH limits the ability of the museum to help with the refuguee population of Utica.
“It will limit the ability of many institiutions to do these types of innovative programs like Shared Traditions, you know, the non-traditional programs that reach a broader audiences, those will be limited.”
D’Ambrosio added that the federal government and the city of Utica underestimate the broad effect of art on the community and the individual.
“I mean there is so much we do for the community and I think people don’t understand that role,” said D’Ambrosio. “They don’t understand the role of art in educaiton that helps with critical thinking, that it calls peple to action, that art musuems are community spaces. In New York [City], there’s lot’s of art museums. In Utica, we’re it.”
As museums like the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute face unknowns about funding for community programs, the funding of arts programs and clubs at Fordham University flourishes.
Performing clubs, which include arts-focused clubs such as the Satin Dolls, Theatrical Outreach Program and Expressions Dance Alliance, recieved 10.78 percent of all total allocations in Fall 2016, according to the Financial Supplement to Fall 2016 Budget Allocations report released by United Students Government.
The percentage of total allocations is an 19.7 percent increase in funding for performing clubs from Fall 2015 to Fall 2016. The only arts club that did not recieve funding was Ampersand, Fordham’s student run literary magazine, despite it’s focus on poetry and other art forms.
One theatre club Mimes and Mummers recieved $15 thousand for the Fall 2016 semester according to the Supplement to Fall 2016 Budget Allocations report released by United Students Government.
Megan O’Keeffe, a member of the Executive Board for Mimes and Mummers, said that there is a strong support for the arts on Fordham’s campus.
“We are very lucky, especially comparatively to other groups.” O’Keeffe added, “We do have money to do what we want to do, but we always could use a little more attention and funding. The performing community, is just continually expanding on campus. If it keeps expanding how it is and on the scale it is, we probably eventually will need a little more funding from a practical standpoint.”
O’Keeffe added that if federal cuts to arts programs affect Fordham, she expects continued support for the arts on campus.
“I hope we’d have a very active group on campus. I hope if nothing else we will all fight. Fordham is pretty good about working with us.”
As President Trump and his administration disclose financial plans that to end federal funding for the NEA, the NEH and PBS, Fordham Democrats gather to discuss the federal budget cuts during their weekly meeting on Wednesday night.
Many students are frustrated at the budget cuts for arts programs. President of Fordham Democrats Eleanor Werner says that the cost to fund the arts is relatively low…
“It’s available to everybody. It’s free information and free public broadcasting and programming for everybody in America and it costs every U.S. citizen a dollar thirty-five, so it’s not even like this huge detriment to people to continue funding them.”
The NEA and the NEH spent one-hundred and forty-eight million on grants, arts programs and funding. The funding accounts for less than one percent of federal spending in 2016.
As students worry about the national cost of the arts, performing clubs at Fordham University flourish. Arts clubs at Rose Hill received over ten percent of the total budget in 2016, a twenty percent increase from the budget payout in 2015.
Megan O’Keeffe, a member of the Executive Board for the theatre club Mimes and Mummers says that there is a strong financial support for the arts on campus.
“We are very lucky, especially comparatively to other groups that they are willing to work with us. We do have money to do what we want to do, but we always could use a little more attention and funding. The performing community, is just continually expanding on campus. It keeps expanding how it is and on the scale it is, we probably eventually will need a little more funding from a practical standpoint. It’s always just about trying to communicate with the administration.”
Fordham increasingly supports the arts and performing clubs on campus, while the Trump Administration decides to decrease funding for arts programs across all states.
This is Julia Gagliardi reporting from Fordham University in the Bronx.