Following reports that funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities may be on the chopping block in the Trump administration’s forthcoming budget, museum directors are coming out swinging.
The Met’s director, Thomas P. Campbell, took to the pages of the New York Times to defend the programs, Boston museum leaders have defended them in an open letter, and now Olga Viso, the director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, has penned an essay on the occasion of Arts Advocacy Day, titled “Strengthening Our Cultural Defense,” that notes that her institution was founded with the aid of the Federal Art Project and the Works Progress Administration, and that the NEA and NEH have been vital to its work, and the work of arts organizations in all 50 states.
A choice excerpt from Viso’s letter:
Although I am deeply heartened by this history, I am struck by how the purpose of Arts Advocacy Day has never seemed more urgent and necessary, as threats to the existence of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) continue to mount and the values of openness and inclusivity are daily challenged. A society is only as free as its artists, and when individual freedoms around speech, travel, and funding are restricted, new more insidious forms of censorship and intolerance are bound to ensue.