Saturday, March 18, 2017

Trump and his minions jeopardize 50 years of arts progress in Wyoming

I missed The Idea of Trump postcard tsunami on March 15 since I was out of town. But did pick up some postcards from Ernie November and sent them on their way yesterday to Congressional delegation. Thanks to Melanie Shovelski for the postcards, yours free for the asking at Ernie November in downtown Cheyenne. The local group 307 Craftivists are fully engaged in The Resistance.
Dear Americans :

Trump's proposed 2018 budget stinks.

It cuts or eliminates all of the programs that I care about, programs used by my family members and neighbors in Wyoming. Eliminate Meals on Wheels? Come on, what kind of heartless bastards are these people? School lunches? The Arts Endowment (NEA)? The Humanities Endowment (NEH)? NPR? The list is endless. The Trumpies are following Grover Norquist's admonition to make the federal government so small you can drown it in a bathtub. Except for the Department of Defense budget -- that grows like Trump's ass. We can see Trump and his minions following the script of the strongman. Impoverish the citizenry, take away their rights and voices, and wage endless war.

Eliminating the NEA cuts me to the quick. The National Endowment for the Arts turned 50 in 2015. It began as one of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs. Johnson left a fantastic legacy, except for a little skirmish called the Vietnam War. The NEA thrived under Nixon, Ford, Carter, even Reagan, for God's sake. Bush 1, and then came Clinton and the Republican culture wars. The NEA was devastated due to Newt & Co. cuts. Rebounded under Dubya and Obama. And now, we have Dufus in the White House and he doesn't read books and others in his cabinet have only read Ayn Rand, over and over again. I read Rand too, back when I was a teen and didn't know any better.

I worked at the NEA for two years and the Wyoming Arts Council for 23. We did great work during that time. The WAC, which was spawned by the NEA and turns 50 this year, gets about 40 percent of its budget from the NEA. If that funding disappears, and state government continues to get cut due to lack of foresight among state legislators, Wyoming will be in trouble.

As an arts supporter, I received this dispatch from the Wyoming Arts Council -- you can also find it on the WAC web site. It cautions Wyomingites and arts orgs to please remain calm and keep doing the good work that you do. The work is important. Civic engagement is yuge. Without it -- sad.

Here's the letter:
On March 16, 2017, the White House released a budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018. This proposal calls for reductions to a range of government programs, including the elimination of federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  
It is important to remember that the legislative branch ultimately decides how to allocate federal funds. This is not the final word; this is the beginning of a conversation. The budget process will likely last well into late summer/early fall.  
As a state agency, the Wyoming Arts Council does not design or coordinate advocacy efforts. However, part of the Arts Council’s mission is to ensure that constituents are informed about the impact of the arts in every community across the state. We invite you to look to us as a resource for information and continue to engage us as a connector. Please feel free to visit our website for information about the value of the arts and the reach of both state and federal funding of the arts.
Should you be interested in advocacy efforts at the state and national level, we suggest you connect with the Wyoming Arts AllianceNational Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and Americans for the Arts.  
Please continue to apply for open grant applications from the National Endowment for the Arts, Wyoming Arts Council, and the Western States Arts Federation. The proposed budget will not influence any open application deadlines.  
We invite you to welcome this situation as an opportunity to articulate the impact the arts have had on your life and in your community.  
We encourage you to actively engage in this process by which our nation proclaims its values and vision. 
During this time, please know that the Arts Council staff will continue our work to ensure the arts are a driving force in building a stronger Wyoming. Thank you for all you do to support the arts in Wyoming.
Michael Lange
Executive Director
Wyoming Arts Council

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