We must keep the arts alive, despite Trump threats

We cannot afford to live in a black and white world, when up until now we’ve been living in a world of vibrant colors. We cannot afford to let theaters, universities and museums across the country suffer by stripping them of their federal aid. We cannot afford to take away some of the nation’s greatest institutions to pinch a penny or two.

Those are the key points I want to convey to President Donald Trump because in his first few weeks in office he has already introduced ways to reduce the federal budget. Over the next ten years, Trump plans to cut federal spending by 10.5 trillion dollars, according to a recent report.

Although that may sound wonderful, it’s not. In order to accomplish this, Trump believes we need to eliminate funding arts and cultural programs that rely on government aid, specifically the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Vanity Fair reports. He wants to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), as well.

Many people argue that arts are just a hobby, so the amount of people that make a living from them is very slim. However, more than 4.74 million people worked in the arts and culture industry as of 2013, according to a study by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The president speaks endlessly about creating new jobs, but these large budget cuts would be taking away jobs from thousands of people, which means they may do more harm than good.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis also found that arts and cultural production contributed more than 704 billion to the U.S. Economy.  Therefore, to stop funding NEA and NEH, and to privatize CPB would also hurt the economy.

This accounts for 4.2 percent of the United States’ GDP. In other words, arts and cultural production have contributed more than construction (586.7 billion) transportation and warehousing (464.1 billion) industries.

On top of all of this, the Washington Post reported that reducing or stopping funding the organizations would only save the country about 0.02 percent of the total budget, so there isn’t much to be gained expect the nation facing a “cultural dark age.”

The last thing this nation needs is to sink further into darkness.

Cultural programs also give grants to places like libraries, public television, museums and universities to make education about the arts easier for everyone to access and prosper from. If Trump succeeds in stopping the funding for NEA and NEH, and privatizing CPB, the useful institutions that millions of people utilize every day will suffer the consequences.

Although Trump’s goal is to reduce federal spending, that doesn’t make defunding these organizations right because they are important in the lives of the American people. They increase creativity among adolescents and teach them how to think outside the box; a helpful life skill. They teach adults that self-expression is powerful and can influence change. Through art, people can raise awareness about controversial issues, share a personal story, show off a unique talent and add a splash of color to the world.

They give young people like me somewhere to grow and thrive, so when it’s time to step out into the real world, they have the courage to do so.

I participated in school theater productions from the beginning of middle school to the end of high school. Those performances molded me into the person I am today, by teaching me not only how to put on a great performance while the spotlight blinds you and your heart is racing, but how to make long-lasting friendships and work together with others. Without arts programs, I wouldn’t be the confident and hard-working person I am today.

The arts may cost thousands of dollars to fund and support, but the lessons to be learned and the experiences to be gained from them are priceless. No matter what happens, we must remember that the arts were alive long before Donald Trump, and they will be alive long after Donald Trump.