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Arts and the Shutdown

Shutdown signage. (Credits counter clockwise from left to right: images via Flickr users Rich Renomeron, Stephen D. Melkisethian, zen, davidyuweb)

Shutdown signage. (Credits counter clockwise from left to right: images via Flickr users Rich Renomeron, Stephen D. Melkisethian, zen, davidyuweb)

When I encountered the article “Taking Stock of the Shutdown’s Continued Impact on the Arts” a yesterday on the ArtsJournal website it felt kind of felt weird to see the article there as only the evening before the government had reached a deal to end the shutdown. However I was still curious. I’ve seen and read a lot of different articles about the sciences that are affected, with funding stopping their research and threatening to make years of research and time null and void, but I haven’t heard much about how the arts where affected during the 16 day shutdown.

The article, originally published on HYPERALLERGIC, was published on the 15th as week entered the 3rd week of the shutdown unsure of whether or not a compromise would be reached soon. This whole government shutdown has been a wired experience for me, as I’m sure it has been for many others. In fact I know it has as our junior class prepares to go abroad I have seen some of them spending the last few weeks wondering about when they will get their passports and if it will be in time to hand in their necessary paperwork. Thankfully, now most of them will meet that deadline, and hopefully won’t have any other mishaps along the road to going abroad. What was wired is that I never knew government could decide to just shutdown because they can’t reach an agreement(I know it’s more than just that), and I somewhat still don’t understand how the people we elect to represent us were allowed to do that.

Getting back to the article though, I found out the Smithsonian’s had been closed, something I already knew from the mass amount of “We are closed until further notice signs due to the government shutdown” that have been posted all over social media lately. All events associated with those museums closed, class field trips and family vacations canceled. In addition many of the National library were closed putting research on hold as people couldn’t access their archives. Something I didn’t realize that would impact the arts directly bu the article pointed out is the closing of the national park system. The example that they give is how the closing of the Angeles National Forest, the L.A. River and Sepulveda Dam caused filming permits to be suspended permits to the popular filming destination, which means those films are losing money, and being put behind schedule.

image from npr.org

image from npr.org

While all of this information was interesting what really got my attention was that the NEA, National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities, was also shuttered during this time, meaning that their grantees could expect to experience “lapses in appropriation” or there grant money. In addition to this class I am also taking an arts admin class called “Arts and Communities” in which we have been talking a lot about funding and how different community arts organizations receive funding, and how important this funding is to the running and success of these programs. Many of the ones about which we talk serve the elderly, youth, and disadvantaged of their community. The NEA is a name that has been mentioned a few times when talking about these programs so it makes me wonder how big of an impact these 16 days will have on these organizations some of which operate on shoe string budgets. If any of their programing won’t be able to happen now because of the “lapses in funding” as discussed.

While we wait to figure out what the long term effects of the shutdown will be this is certainly a question I will be raising with my Arts and communities professor next week.

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