President Trump’s proposal to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and other arts-related organization is not only a blow to the cultural climate of our nation but also would be a serious threat to economic and job growth. According to a 2015 study by the Department of Commerce, total arts and cultural products and services output was over $1 trillion annually, contributing $700 million to the nation’s economy – or nearly 5% of all U.S. goods and services.
Approximately 5 million Americans are employed in arts and culture-related jobs in television and film, publishing, music, video gaming, fashion, graphic design, advertising and related fields. In Southern California, approximately one in every three new jobs are in arts-related fields. Creative products and services are a fast-growing area, and one of the few where the United States is a leading exporter.
Organizations like the NEA are an important contributor to economic growth not only by supporting creative endeavors, but even more importantly, by inspiring younger generations to pursue creative careers. Countless numbers of boys and girls who are exposed to the performing arts, music, design, fashion, video gaming and other creative expression will pursue careers in arts and culture and will contribute to the economic growth of our nation.
Considering the important contribution of the creative industry to economic growth and job creation, the funding for the NEA ($150 million annually) is a pittance. Compare the small NEA budget with the much larger annual security expenditures for President Trump’s weekend trips to Mar-A-Lago and Melania Trump’s decision to live in the Trump Tower rather than the White House.
The Republicans in Congress have long singled out the NEA for its cultural elitism, most of the agency’s programs are focused on bringing arts and cultural in all forms to broad and diverse segments of the population and exposing young people to the enormous possibilities of creative endeavors. What few people talk about is the tremendous contribution that the creative industries make to the economic growth and vitality of our nation.