When Authors Alliance launched in 2014, we announced that our mission would be “to further the public interest in facilitating widespread access to works of authorship by assisting and representing authors who want to disseminate knowledge and products of the imagination broadly.”
As an organization that advocates for the rights of authors and creators, we are shocked and saddened by the news that President Trump’s proposed federal budget for 2018, released earlier today, calls for a total elimination of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Although their share of the budget is vanishingly small, both programs support thousands of art, community, and cultural projects in all 50 states, and in every congressional district. The NEA in particular provides grants to support libraries, up-and-coming authors, new work, and small presses—all crucial to members of our creative community and to the overall health and well-being of a free and democratic society. The proposed cuts to these and other federal programs would hurt independent authors, creators, and the academic community, and impede the progress of the arts and sciences. Especially hard-hit will be thousands of creators in the heartland—the Midwest and the South—who have depended on these modest subsidies to enrich the cultural environment of their locales and enable them to sustain their creative work.
When the NEA and NEH were created by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, the Act establishing the programs read in part: “The practice of art and the study of the humanities require constant dedication and devotion. While no government can call a great artist or scholar into existence, it is necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to help create and sustain not only a climate encouraging freedom of thought, imagination, and inquiry but also the material conditions facilitating the release of this creative talent.”
Financial backing for cultural endeavors is often tenuous at best, but never before have the core assumptions about the inherent worth of the arts and humanities come under such vicious attack. We encourage our members and allies to resist this assault on the fundamental values that encourage and celebrate freedom of expression.