It’s Not Just About the NEA Cuts

You will have to forgive me. I have a dragon spouting fire in my belly, and the only thing that will quench it is some holy truth water, in the form of writing. I only hope this spontaneous drive to my blog doesn’t result in something like dispelled breakfast from a cat. I hope my words can flow through my fingers, untangled despite the bile that’s creeping up my throat.

There have been many announced cuts by the American administration, and people aren’t happy. My twitter is full of perfect, eloquent responses as to why, you know, seniors and the disabled actually deserve food. That thing that gives us all life. (Meals on Wheels is just one group on the chopping block.)

There’s something else that gives life: the arts. Before you think I’m being dramatic, that isn’t just a metaphoric sentiment. Today I saw one man say that if it weren’t for the arts, he wouldn’t be here now. Literally.
I know exactly what he means, because I was a suicidal 16 year old, who finally felt like I fit in when I found other artistically minded teenagers.

My favorite singer, Josh Groban, has tried to be a champion of the arts today. Unlike me, he is a person who has a far reaching voice. This is the upside of fame, and he doesn’t shy away from it. The downside, is that people feel free to degrade his right to speak, BECAUSE he’s famous. Such responses are what brought me here today.

You see, the budget for both the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, have been cut, and many of the “shut up and sing” commentators in Josh Groban’s Twitter feed just don’t get why this upsets people.

These commentators argue that “it’s a waste!”

Let’s just ignore for a second that the arts make a lot of money in the States, and that education is a basic human right (the NEH, for example, is ALL about education, including linguistics, literature and history, and why the hell should we want to have a better understanding of our history?? Oh, that’s right…something about previous leaders who didn’t like education and free press.)

We previously reported that the NEA supported programs like the Military Healing Arts Partnership. A direct quote from

Creative arts therapy activities include visual art therapy activities such as mask-making and montage painting, as well as expressive writing. Participating Fort Belvoir service members described multiple benefits of these interventions: the ability to process trauma, and increased capacity to address issues related to identity, frustrations, transitions, grief, cognitive skills and memory.”

Let’s talk some statistics.

40% of NEA funded activities are in high-poverty neighborhoods, and 36% goes to organisations who serve our under-served members of society, including the disabled.

I’m sorry, but what empathetic human being isn’t bothered by the fact that The American leadership simply does not care? Of course we’re upset.

This problem goes deeper than some careless leader who can’t see beyond his golf clubs to the needs and suffering of real, breathing humans. Humans who need to be treated like flesh and blood, and not figures on a cold, white piece of paper, or pawns in a business deal.

The real problem lies beyond the cuts. The problem is, people don’t want to educate themselves on what the arts REALLY are.

The arts are seen as fluffy, pointless entertainment. It’s seen as a bunch of thespians running around like chickens with their heads cut off, yelling “give me a location” through a little hole in their neck.

Let me be clear: at the crux of it, the arts have very little to do with your enjoyment and entertainment.

It has to with people, and how they relate positively to the world.

It has to do with every isolated, bullied kid who feels solace through their piano keys.
It has to do with disabled children connecting with their peers through art workshops.
It has to do with poverty stricken neighborhoods having something to live for other than the basic necessities they fight so hard for.
It has to do with refugee children and adults being able to express their traumatic feelings into paintings, and public art displays.

It has to do with that moment, that moment when you’re alone in every sense of the word, and you see a painting, read a book, or listen to a song and realize…

I’m not alone.

Please sign this petition.

2 thoughts on “It’s Not Just About the NEA Cuts”

  1. I think the arts are also necessary because they make space for folks to imagine and experiment with different possibilities. I know the phrase ‘safe space’ has been overused and come to mean something really specific in some circles, but the arts can create a space where it’s safe to experiment with ideas before trying them out in the real world – that’s a step towards people recognising that they have agency.

    Liked by 1 person

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