Funding for the arts and humanities has been under threat in America for decades, but if the Trump administration has its way, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)—two organizations vital to America’s cultural economy—may no longer exist.

Trump’s proposed budget calls for the elimination of the NEA, the NEH, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Philadelphia’s arts and culture community reacted to this threat by gathering at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) last week.

Representatives from the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Barnes Foundation, the Brandywine Museum, and the Philadelphia Theater Company were at the meeting, along with other Philly business and cultural leaders.

As Peter Dobrin explained on last month, Philadelphia has a lot to lose if the NEA and NEH were to go away. The Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities’ indemnity program provides insurance for Philadelphia museums, as it does for institutions across the country, for art they borrow from museums and private collectors worldwide.

Philadelphia cultural institutions have been the beneficiaries of more than $7 million in grants from the NEA, and Pennsylvania’s museums and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council have received nearly $10 million from the NEH.

And this issue goes far beyond the arts and culture scene. Underserved communities would be adversely affected as federal funding provides access to the arts and humanities in low-income and rural areas.

As Art Reach Executive Director John Orr noted at the briefing at PAFA last week, “We know through data that 40 percent of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods. Twenty-five percent of NEA block grants take place in rural communities, and over 54 percent of programming support goes to low-income areas.”

Philly cultural leaders fight for the arts