Yesterday, David Byrne attended a rally at New York’s City Hall to protest Donald Trump’s proposed elimination of publicly funded arts organizations like the National Endowment For The Arts, the National Endowment For The Humanities, and the Corporation For Public Broadcasting. Byrne spoke at the event, arguing for the economic and social benefits of arts funding, and he makes the same points in a new essay he’s posted on his site entitled “What Good Are The Arts?“
“The Trump administration and their Republican allies hope to eliminate funding for a number of federal arts organizations,” Byrne writes. “This is a political move — it really doesn’t amount to much money—it’s a tiny part of the federal budget. The amount of federal funding is $741 million, which sounds like a lot, but is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the United States’ annual federal spending, an amount supporters say is too small to make a difference in the budget if it was cut. On a budget pie chart it doesn’t even show up, it’s too small.”
Byrne goes on to argue for the “undeniable and indisputable monetary and social value to the nation as a whole in the publicly funded arts,” citing a recent study finding that non-profit arts generate $135.2 billion in economic activity in the US. “Why in the world would one want to walk away from such an incredible investment?” he asks. “It’s probably the best investment the government makes — as far as a means of generating jobs, growth and social good… surely the businessmen and women in our government can see this and get beyond making silly political points at the expense of the nation, its economy and people.”
Read the full essay here.