Recently, the Washington, DC, publication The Hill reported on possible plans by the Trump Administration to eliminate federal funding for the arts and humanities. Ever since, we here at the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) and our colleagues at the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) have heard from cultural advocates asking what they can do to prevent this. During the past couple of weeks we have been involved in a number of conversations on this issue. The Federation of State Humanities Councils, Americans for the Arts and The New York Times have published important information regarding the situation, and we encourage you to review this material.
I wanted to share a statement from the Federation of State Humanities Councils:
“The recent news that President Trump’s first budget could eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) was understandably alarming to humanities supporters. The report, which initially appeared in The Hill, described budget plans being floated with the White House that would include elimination of NEH and its sister agency, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and deep cuts to a wide array of other federal programs. The report was followed by a flurry of articles pointing out that the combined savings achieved through these cuts would be a mere 0.02 percent of federal spending and that eliminating even small agencies would be a significant undertaking.
Although no plans have emerged directly from the White House, a budget outline will likely be released by late February and a full budget request in late April or May. The Federation has asked councils with members on the Interior Appropriations subcommittees to contact those members and has encouraged councils with newly elected members to educate those members about the important work councils carry out in each of their districts. Councils have already heard back from some of the offices contacted.”
Since RI Senator Jack Reed serves on several appropriation committees including Interior, the Council has already been in touch with him. We greatly appreciate his efforts as well as those of all the members of our Congressional delegation on behalf of all Rhode Islanders. Email and phone tend to be the best way to reach Congressional staff. Please follow the links below to the websites of our senators and representatives.
Congressman David Cicilline (RI 1st district)
Congressman Jim Langevin (RI 2nd district)
We advise everyone to withhold judgment until there is a proposal. We need all our friends in leadership positions in government on both sides of the aisle and at all levels. It would not be helpful to alienate anyone based on premature assumptions. The arts councils have expressed a similar perspective–read a blog from Randy Rosenbaum of RISCA here.
But it is always a good idea to contact your representatives at the local, state and federal level to express your support for public funding for the humanities and arts. Share what this support has made possible in your community.
The staff and board of the Humanities Council, with our colleagues at RISCA, will continue to monitor the situation and make sure you know what is happening. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas on this issue with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities