Harlem City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer held a rally today outside City Hall that was attended by hundreds protesting President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts for the arts.
In his 2018 budget blueprint, Trump has eliminated funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Collectively the cuts would eliminate $971 million from the national budget.
The rally was the first in New York City to protest the cuts. Hundreds of cultural leaders, artists, union leaders and other supporters spilled out across the street through City Hall Park.
“President Trump’s unprecedented and vicious assault on the arts and the humanities with the proposed elimination of the NEA, NEH, IMLS and CPB would be devastating for the heart and soul of our country,” Van Bramer told the crowd. “These cuts would cripple cultural organizations and libraries in big cities like New York, the cultural capital of the world.”
In the city, the arts account for more than 8% of the workforce, employing more than 300,000 people. From 2000 to 2016, Manhattan cultural organizations received $189.5 million in funding from the NEA; groups in Brooklyn received $34 million; the Bronx received $5.6 million; Queens received $3.3 million; and Staten Island received $774,500.
In 2016 the performing arts organizations, museums and historic sites that received NEA funding collectively maintained a staff of 30,154 and paid $453.4 million in wages.
“Though it accounts for just a fraction of a fraction of the federal budget, the National Endowment for the Arts has an outsized impact on our lives,” said Tino Gagliardi, president of Local 802, the American Federation of Musicians.