Robert Redford: Defunding NEA 'wrong approach' at 'wrong time'

Robert Redford: Defunding NEA 'wrong approach' at 'wrong time'
© Getty Images

Actor Robert Redford criticized President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in an open letter on Sunday.

Redford called defunding the NEA “entirely the wrong approach at entirely the wrong time" in a letter on the Sundance Institute website

"The proposed defunding of the NEA’s budget would gut our nation’s long history of support for artists and arts programs and it would deprive all our citizens of the culture and diversity the humanities brings to our country,” he wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT
"We need to invite new voices to the table, we need to offer future generations a chance to create, and we need to celebrate our cultural heritage.”

Trump’s proposed cuts to the federal budget released last week would eliminate the NEA, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. The blueprint would also scrap the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding for PBS and National Public Radio stations, as part of a plan to boost defense spending.

The slice of funding for the national endowments makes up a small portion of the nearly $4 trillion federal budget: The NEA acquired $148 million from federal funds in 2016.

Redford cited what he called the “fractional” needs of the NEA.

“The historic investment in the NEA has been fractional compared to other government spending but the dividends of this investment in our culture are unquantifiable,” he wrote.

Redford hailed the NEA for contributing to the launch of his Sundance Institute in 1981.

"That first promising investment from the NEA, and their belief in my project was vital to launching programs that now support tens of thousands of American artists working in film and theater and new media," he wrote.

He urged people to contact their lawmakers to state their "opposition to these cuts and in favor of continued support for the role the arts play in enriching our American story.”