Actors’ Equity has condemned President Donald Trump’s “outrageous” proposal to freeze $110 million in the 2021 budget for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The proposed freeze is part of the $27.4 billion in government programs Trump is trying to stall in his last days in office through a process known as “rescission,” in which he can ask Congress to cede budget authority over certain programs for which money has been allocated but not yet spent. While Congress processes the request, funding for these programs can be frozen for up to 45 days.
The list of proposals, formally submitted last week, “identifies wasteful and unnecessary spending that must be removed from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, as well as other amounts that are no longer needed for the purposes for which they were appropriated,” OMB director Russell Vought wrote in a letter.
The proposed cuts, 73 in all, also targeted the Commission of Fine Arts, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the National Gallery of Art, the Peace Corps, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, among other programs.
“It’s sad, but unsurprising, that Donald Trump would try to wreak havoc and cause more damage on his way out the door, given that he has tried to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts since 2017,” said Actors’ Equity president Kate Shindle. “The NEA is responsible for keeping the lights on at arts organizations in every state. These institutions are not only finding ways to support their communities during a pandemic, but they also continue to provide middle-class jobs in an industry that is facing record unemployment. We look forward to having a pro-arts, pro-worker president take office this week.”
Actors’ Equity, which represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theater, says that the Trump administration “has often put arts funding at an existential risk.” Beginning in March 2017, Trump announced his intention to eliminate the NEA altogether. The NEA, however, continues to survive, and through bipartisan support in Congress received a budgetary increase of more than $7 million last year.