On Thursday, President Donald Trump revealed his first budget proposal, which includes cuts to several programs supporting the arts. According to NPR, the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated, and funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be cut to zero.
Many have spoken out against the proposal, including legendary English actress Julie Andrews. She and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, who have written dozens of children's books together, penned a passionate defense of the arts and its positive impact, especially for young people. It was published Thursday by CNN.
"Decades worth of research attests to the fact that the arts are among the most profoundly important and valuable ways to improve learning and promote success, from early childhood through adulthood," Andrews and Hamilton write. They cite studies published by the NEA that outline the benefits of arts engagement for young people, including higher grade-point averages and lower dropout rates.
"And yet, the arts are the first to go when the budget ax falls," they continue, pointing out how "poor, inner-city and rural communities, whose access to such resources are scarce to begin with, will shoulder a disproportionate share of those losses."
The mother and daughter go on to share their own vast experience with the arts, and the positive impact they have witnessed on individuals and communities: "Julie has heard from countless people over the decades who believe their lives were enriched by the inspiration, comfort and sense of connection they received from the music, stories, films and productions in which she was fortunate enough to participate."
As for Hamilton, she and her husband co-founded Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, N.Y., in 1991: "As creator of the theater's Young Audience programming, and subsequently as director of the Young Artists and Writers Project at Stony Brook University, Emma has seen students base their decision to attend college — or not to drop out — on the opportunities provided by the arts."
"The arts are fundamental to our common humanity," the piece continues. "Every time we attend the theater, a museum or a concert, we are literally feeding our souls, and investing in and preserving our collective future. To paraphrase the great Katherine Anne Porter, when all about us is lying in the ashes, it is the arts that remind us who we are, where we came from and what matters most."
They call the proposed cuts "mind-boggling" and ask that everyone do what they can "to preserve and advance this most precious and essential resource, and demand that our elected representatives do the same."
You can read Andrews' and Hamilton's full response on CNN. Fittingly, the pair recently created Julie's Greenroom, a new children's series for Netflix focused on the performing arts. It's available to stream starting today.
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