Majority Leader Van Bramer Blasts Any Attempt by the Trump Administration to Defund the Arts

Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer sent a letter to President Trump saying that to cutting funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and other arts and cultural programs would “cripple the soul of our country,” and lead to a decline in the American economy.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear President Trump:

As the Majority Leader of the New York City Council and the Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, I am extremely concerned by any proposed budget which would strip funding from the National Endowment for the Arts or the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Our creativity, our entrepreneurial spirit, and our willingness to push the boundaries of what is possible are essential to our country—and all of this is rooted in art and culture.

The arts help us communicate the unsayable, envision impossible futures, and connect us to one another in ways that almost nothing else can. Arts and culture are vital to creating the American spirit. Defunding the NEA would irreparably cripple the soul of our country.

We simply cannot cut funding to the programs that make America the world leader that it is. American artists are on the cutting edge across the globe, and people from Australia to Antarctica follow culture that comes out of our country. There is a story that during the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s finance minister suggested cutting arts spending to fund the war effort. Churchill famously responded: “Then what are we fighting for?” Without art, and without culture, how much of a world leader can America truly be?

Arts and culture are also key drivers of the American economy. Every year, arts and culture drives $135.2 billion of economic activity, supports 4.13 million full-time jobs and generates $86.68 billion in resident household income. Local, state, and federal governments collectively invest $4 billion into arts and culture each year, and receive $22.3 billion in revenue. As a businessman, you should know that this is an exceptional return on investment.

If we cut funding to the NEA, not only the American economy but also the American spirit will suffer. I strongly urge you to not just maintain funding for the NEA, but to increase it. Because you can’t make anything great by crushing its soul.


Jimmy Van Bramer

Majority Leader, New York City Council

Chair of Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries