Sometimes it feels like I’m talking into the abyss, but talk I must. So here it goes…
Killing the NEA is not just about the monetary loss that millions of non-profit theatres will face; it is also about killing a sense of free-thought and destroying the idea that the arts matter.
In actuality funding from the NEA only covers a small percentage of most theatres’ income and barley makes a dent in national spending. Cutting the NEA would save a mere 0.00375% of the United States yearly spending. It’s clearly not about the money; this is about what the NEA stands for.
Any country with a government that publically supports the arts, consciously chooses to create a population founded on curiosity and thoughtful discourse. A government that tries to eradicate the arts is trying to eradicate critical thinking, which leads to abolishing free speech.
On top of the NEA, Trump has proposed to cut the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is very clear that Trump is cutting the programs that touch our humanity and challenge our sense of empathy. The things that enlighten and empower citizens to challenge the practices of their government.
As the NEA says, “Art works on individuals and communities to change, confront, challenge, and inspire us; to allow us to imagine and to aspire to something more.”
This couldn’t be truer. I am lucky enough to have grown up in an extremely loving, well-off home. My parents were committed to teaching me that there is a whole world out there. They were constantly trying to expand my mind and challenge my perception on “what the world is”. And, on top of that, they always let me have a voice at the table. If I didn’t have a life in the arts, I’m sure I’d be okay right now. I would be pursing something else and be mildly content, but I would be nowhere near the person I am today.
I am currently a senior theatre arts major at Boston University. Almost every single day, I read a new play. I am asked to learn about the world of the play, to learn about the world of the author, and to constantly and vigorously challenge my preconceived notions. Some worlds I feel right at home with and some illuminate things about myself that I never knew existed. Every day I become a deeper, fuller person with a greater capacity for empathy. I am constantly monitoring the privilege I have in this world and combating the inherent challenges I will and have faced.
My peers and teachers inspire me every damn day to never stop questioning. I hope that I can encourage others to start questioning and observing their circumstances instead of blindly accepting them as truth.
I have, time and time again, seen theatre radically change the way someone walks in the world because it gives him or her a sense of purpose, of understanding, and most importantly the notion “I am worthy.”
Never let anyone take away your worth. You are worthy.