What a Donald Trump presidency will mean for Arts & Culture in the US

Written by Kristopher Wright | info@odessadenver.com  


(Denver CO)

    It’s now been two weeks since Election Day…has the shock worn off yet? Whether you felt ‘the Bern’, or you were ‘with her’, or voted to ‘make America great again’, the fact is Donald Trump is going to be our next President. (cringes). By now you may be familiar with President-Elect Trump’s views on everything from Foreign Policy, Immigration, Women’s Rights, The Environment, etc. But what about the Arts? How might a Trump Presidency affect the many creative individuals and organizations across the US which rely on the Government's support of Arts and Culture?

Hal Hefner

Hal Hefner

Before we get started, Let’s first crunch the numbers….

    In 2013, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated the overall value of Arts and Culture businesses in the American economy at $704.2 billion, producing a $24.1 billion surplus in foreign trade. Additionally, the annual budget of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the federal government's ONLY cultural funding institution, currently stands at $148 million. With the United States' current population of 319 million, that calculates to 46 cents of public funds per capita. Compare that to yearly arts funding in the city of Berlin: 400 million euros ($445 million), or 114 euros ($127) per capita. Overall, Germany outspends the United States 40 to 1.

    So, where does Donald stand? Well, It’s hard to say. Neither the campaign nor the President-Elect has made any official statement regarding his views on Arts and Culture. And for a man of such financial wealth, Donald’s dabblings in the Art world over the years have been surprisingly limited; No public collecting and no museum board membership.

When asked what policies The President-Elect believed would best promote economic growth in the creative sector, trump vaguely replied:

“As I have made clear on countless occasions, the free market will inform us on what enterprises will flourish and which ones will fail.”
Illma Gore

Illma Gore


    And when asked if he believed our core competency education policy, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), should expand to include art and design, he deferred to the states saying:


“The states are best able to determine how education dollars are spent. The federal government needs to get out of the education business and let the states, local districts and parents determine what is taught in our schools.”


    So it looks like we’ll just have to wait and see how a Trump Presidency will truly affect policies and funding for Arts and Culture over the next 4 years. But do keep in mind that Republicans such as Newt Gingrich and other conservatives did attempt to dismantle the NEA back in 2011. With Republicans now in control of the House and the senate, they may try again.

    It may come as a shock to learn just how little our nation spends on funding for the arts when compared to other countries like Germany, Ireland, France, and Sweden. Whoever you voted for this year, let this serve as a challenge to all Artists, Educators, and Creatives to continue to demand their local government continue to enact funding and policies which support museums, organizations, schools, and individuals!


CLICK HERE to learn more about some of the many organizations supporting Arts and Culture in Colorado:  SCFD  CCI  DENVER ARTS & CULTURE