Nick Muscavage , @nmuscavagePublished 5:10 p.m. ET March 16, 2017 | Updated 6:40 p.m. ET March 16, 2017
But proposal includes increased funding for public charter schools and private school vouchers, as well as crackdown on drug gangs and undocumented immigrants
President Donald Trump on Thursday released his budget proposal that, if enacted, would decrease funding to the arts, environmental programs, security grants and university research.
There would, however, be increased funding for public charter schools and private school vouchers as well as a crackdown on drug gangs and undocumented immigrants. Funding would increase treatment for opioid addiction and building more military weaponry and hardware.
After the proposed budget was announced, U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (RN.J., District 7) said he supports
cutting federal spending but called “penny wise and pound foolish” the proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and cut the Coast Guard and Justice Department grants.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (DN.J., District 6) said that the “arts herald diversity.”
“In my area, there are grants to translate Spanish poetry in Highland Park (for Enriqueta Carrington to translate the poetry of 17th century Mexican poet Juana Ines de la Cruz), at Crossroads (Theatre in New Brunswick) there's a grant for AfricanAmerican singers and in Perth Amboy there's a grant supporting Latino arts and culture," Pallone said. "(Trump) and his administration do not want to support the funding of Latino arts projects.”
Representatives from the arts scene throughout Central Jersey said that their organizations would suffer a blow if Trump's proposed budget were enacted.
"What people have to realize is that NEA funding is tied to State Council on the Arts funding," said Marshall Jones III, producing artistic director of the Tonywinning Crossroads Theatre Co. in New Brunswick. "We get $25,000 a year from the state, so that money would go away."
Another organization in New Brunswick said that NEA funding is important to them.
"coLAB Arts is incredibly honored to be named a new recipient for NEA funding. We’ve spent the better part of the last decade finding our voice as an organization that creates work with and for our community," said Dan Swern, producing director of coLAB Arts. "NEA cuts won’t stop us from doing our work, though [it] would slow down our growth and reduce our capacity for impact."
Any cuts in federal funding for the arts will impact Union County, Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski said.
“Our Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs has been awarded $145,000 from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts this year, and a big chunk of that money comes from the National Endowment for the Arts," she said. "We use these funds to support 33 local arts organizations, conduct arts workshops, and present exhibits featuring the work of residents of all ages. This week, we are holding our annual Teen Arts Festival at Union County College, where more than 4,000 students present their artwork. If federal funds are cut, we will have to scale back on programs that make a huge difference to our residents. All of us will feel it.”
Allison Larena, president and CEO of the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown, said that "the NEA is the single largest national funder of nonprofit arts in America."
"MPAC relies on the NEA funding to assist us in bringing vital arts programs to the lives of hundreds of thousands in our region each year while driving more than $15 million in revenue into our local economy," she said. "The elimination of this funding would be devastating to nonprofit arts organizations such as MPAC and the communities we serve.”
The NEA would lose $152 million in funds, effectively eliminating the agency. Its requested budget for 2017 was around $149 million, according to its website. The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would also be eliminated.
New Jersey arts groups received $2.3 million from the NEA last year.
Following is a list of 10 organizations or individuals that received funding from the NEA over the past three years, according to the NEA's website:
Rutgers University in New Brunswick: $40,000 to support From STEM to STEAM: ReMaking 21stCentury Learning, a professional development project for high school teachers.
Music For All Seasons Inc. in Scotch Plains: $30,000 (two years) to support music programs for children and families living in shelters. Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit: $25,000 to support an artist residency, exhibition and accompanying catalog, an Imagine Your Parks project.
Matheny School and Hospital Inc. in PeapackGladstone: $20,000 (two years) to support Full Circle, a multidisciplinary project that will showcase art created by individuals with disabilities.
Enriqueta Carrginton in Highland Park: $12,500 to to support the translation from the Spanish of 17thcentury Mexican poet Juana Ines de la Cruz's complete sonnets and "Reply to Sister Filotea de la Cruz," a 14,000word autobiographical letter.
coLAB Arts Inc.in New Brunswick: $10,000 to support an artist residency project. An artistinresidence will be selected and embedded in the work of the Lower Raritan Watershed, an environmental organization dedicated to conservation and restoration of the Raritan River. Crossroads Inc. in New Brunswick: $10,000 to support the premiere of Ken Ludwig's "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery."
Theater Project in Union: $10,000 to support performances of "Crowns" by playwright by Regina Taylor, postperformance questionand answer sessions with the cast, and related outreach activities.
McCarter Theater Company in Princeton: $10,000 to support the premiere of Ken Ludwig's "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery." Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Inc. in Madison: $10,000 to support the presentation of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised)" at the Outdoor Stage.
Contributing: Staff Writers Bob Makin and Suzanne Russell