President Trump's Budget Would Eliminate National Endowment for the Arts

Among the 19 independent federal agencies on the chopping block in President Donald Trump's budget is the National Endowment for the Arts.

The agency received approximately $147 million in the previous fiscal year. That represents one one-hundredth of one percent of federal discretionary spending.

Eliminating the NEA would put immense pressure on arts organizations to increase private funding from donors and arts foundations.

"If it is eliminated it's going to have a massive impact on what Kitchen Dog and what local artists and area theaters are able to do," said Tina Parker, co-artistic director of the Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas.

The Kitchen Dog Theater is one of only two theaters in Texas to receive thousands of dollars in NEA funding for each of the last five years. More than 70 percent of its productions are original works. The theater also offers programs for high school students. Parker said having grants from the NEA carries weight with private donors.

"We wouldn't be around for 26 years if we didn't have the support of the NEA," Parker said. "For us to have that kind of stamp of approval has been amazing in the growth of this company."

Actor Max Hartman has been with the Kitchen Dog Theater for nearly 20 years. He can't imagine life without the NEA.

"To keep the lights on and to have a space, literally to do what we do, we need that funding," he said. "It might be a tiny part of the budget they're trying to cut out, but it's a huge difference-maker to a company like us."

Whether the NEA gets eliminated is up to Congress. Parker hopes leaders in Washington recognize the importance of the agency and keep it afloat.

"It's not just we put on some costumes and we put on a show, these are people's lives, these are people's jobs. This is keeping a kid in school."

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