Letter to the Editor: Arts shouldn’t be nationally funded


Kenneth Pancake

In the last edition of The Gateway, in an article entitled, “An enemy of the truth is an enemy of the arts,” the author said this about President Trump’s proposed cutting of the National Endowment for the Arts:

“It is increasingly clear that… [this is] a direct attack of the existence of the arts in the United States as a whole.”

As a music education major who has played with Grammy award winners, gone on tour with UNO jazz ensembles on two other continents and learned from world-class musicians, all as a direct benefit of the NEA, I can tell you that nothing is farther from the truth.

It seems that the writer of the article I mentioned above believes that Trump is “an enemy of the arts,” saying that “…Trump now too comes after the arts…”. Herein lies a massive misconception; that cutting federal funding for the arts is the equivalent of ‘coming after the arts.’ What President Trump is actually doing is coming after big government, like he said he would in his inaugural address.

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

To put that in the layman’s terms, the 10th Amendment states the federal government has no right to do anything that the Constitution doesn’t give it permission to. This amendment is our basis for the governing idea of Federalism – dividing the power between the local governments and the federal government. The idea behind Federalism (and the entire Constitution) is that the sovereign power should not be centered in one place, lest a tyrannical force take control and manipulate the power for his/ her own benefit. In 1776, that tyrannical force was England. The founders had personal experience regarding the matter.

Sadly, this has been largely ig-nored. Thanks to the repeated liberal activism of the Supreme Court, dozens if not hundreds of items better left to the states are now in the hands of the federal government. Funding for the arts is one of these items, whether you love them or not.

The Constitution doesn’t mention the arts as a power of the government (the only exception being to secure “for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries” in Article I, Section 8). This was because the founders knew that if a tyrannical government had any control over the arts, it could be manipulated to reduce free speech. One might claim that the federal government is the best source of this support; however, let’s not forget that we are nearly $20 trillion in debt right now.

Who will fund it then? Like the rest of capitalism, the arts should find a home in the local governments (State, City and County), along with private donors. If everyone who opposed Trump’s actions would donate $20 to a privatized NEA per year, the staffers would actually thank Trump for their newfound prosperity.

The author of the article I reference should love this solution, since it takes the arts out of Trump’s hands. If Trump was really attacking the arts, like the author claims, he would want to retain control and manipulate it from the inside, threatening to pull funding from any institution that chose to pub-lish left-leaning works of art. He is doing quite the opposite.

The arts are an awesome thing. They have lifted myself and dozens of fellow musicians out of stress, anxiety and even depression. They help increase graduation rates, test scores and grades. Organizations like the NEA do wonders for the arts community, and should receive support. No one reason-ably denies that. All I ask is that we support these institutions in a way that will safeguard America’s future.