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Column: Cutting arts and public broadcasting funding is a tragedy

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Sometimes I feel completely unmotivated discussing the 45th President. 

What started off as something that fiercely fueled me, is now becoming something that drastically drains me. And I don't think I'm the only one. I can't be the only person, artist or writer who feels this way. His actions are affecting so many different types of people, in so many different areas, that I'm sure there's a wide consensus throughout the country on how the president is making us feel and treating our rights. People are becoming even more upset every day and they're attempting to find new ways to have their voices heard. Everyone must know of the rights that will potentially be lost because of the actions the president is taking. Everything from the environment to healthcare is being decided on at the moment and it can really change the way our country goes forward.

Honestly, just thinking about this wears me out. Thinking about the likelihood of having our country completely turned upside down is depressing, but it's still incendiary. I wish being shocked, angered and scared for our country's future wasn't part of my everyday life, but it is. I wish the president's actions weren't so blatantly disrespectful, self-centered and abusive, but they are. So, the only thing we can do is to let everyone hear us.

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As an artist, I feel very strongly about the purpose of art and how people can benefit from being involved with art. Studies have shown that art is an extremely positive force for young children. Art can be used as a method of protest, a method of education, a method of entertainment. Art is a vehicle for change. Art can be anything we let it be. So, why is our president attempting to cut arts funding? 

The president doesn't seem to care about art, which is odd since he has a history of being involved with a reality television show, which some could argue is a form of art, although I would not. 

However, the president isn't quite concerned with the art that's produced by large, private organizations, such as the television companies that produced his reality show. He seems to only be concerned for restricting certain people from embracing art, the poor people in underprivileged communities. In his budget, he is proposing to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which funds different art projects throughout various US communities. This endowment funds non-profit art organizations that completely rely on these funds and would otherwise not be able to produce art in their communities. 

The 45th President is proposing to cut the NEA's $148 million budget, even though it is estimated that having the first lady live in New York, instead of in the White House, is costing $1 million a day. A year of this would amount to double of the NEA's budget. If we really have to cut our budget, wouldn't it be useful to cut other seemingly useless expenses before cutting our support for the arts? 

There's a stigma about the usefulness of art that I think drives people to consider it unimportant. Which is why art is, unfortunately, always the first to go; something we see everywhere from small school district budgets to our national budget. Cutting funding to the NEA would block people living in underprivileged communities to lack the motivational force of art in their community. 

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The president is also planning on cutting funds to Public Broadcasting. This would directly affect PBS and NPR, both channels used by people to become informed and educated. Again, I believe the president is attempting to block the ways in which poor Americans, who do not have access to cable television, are able to experience television and entertainment. Maybe his privilege of not having to rely on public broadcasting systems to become entertained or educated have made him believe that these services are not extremely useful. But this is not the case. Cutting PBS funding would have an extremely negative effect on our country. Children learn from watching shows on PBS Kids. Adults learn from watching PBS and listening in to NPR. 

We cannot let these threats intimidate us or force us to censor ourselves in fear. We cannot allow these platforms, which promote free speech, to be eliminated in our country. We cannot make self-centered decisions, like the ones the president is making. He needs to understand that some people rely completely on these platforms, and putting them at risk like this is an extremely reckless decision. Cutting public access to art is not the way to go. Not at all. I think everyone should be smart enough to agree on that.  


Follow Julian Cardenas on Twitter.



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