Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, have penned a letter in response to Donald Trump’s proposal to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
“This is mind-boggling to us, considering how much the arts benefit our lives and our world,” Andrews and Hamilton wrote for CNN. “They foster collaboration and creativity, essential skills for navigating in the workplace and surviving in a challenging world. They cultivate empathy and tolerance, by bridging cultural and socioeconomic divides. They’re also good for business: They spur urban renewal, promote tourism and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity annually.”
On Thursday, President Trump targeted the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities for complete elimination in his first proposed budget.
Trump’s budget would zero out the $445 million budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a substantial source of funding for programming and broadcast operations on public TV stations and NPR radio stations nationwide, per the Washington Post.
The budget would also eliminate the budgets for both national endowments, which stood at $148 million each in 2016, as well as $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports libraries and museums. Additional cuts would affect two tourist mainstays in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.
Combined, the four arts organizations account for less than 0.02 percent of the U.S. government’s $4.6 trillion budget.
In their essay, Andrews and Hamilton listed off the benefits of art programs to the youth in the United States.
“Young people who engage regularly with the arts are twice as likely to read for pleasure, three times more likely to win an award for attendance or be elected to class office, and four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement or perform community service,” they wrote. “These students have higher grade-point averages and standardized test scores, and lower dropout rates, and they reap these benefits regardless of socioeconomic status.”
“…and yet, the arts are the first to go when the budget ax falls,” the letter continued. “Now, with the shifting priorities of our new presidential administration, artists and arts organizations are at serious risk of losing the support they need to do their invaluable work.”
Andrews, who added that over the course of her career she’s been told by fans how her work the arts has “enriched” their lives, urged members of society to do everything “possible to preserve and advance this most precious and essential resource.”
“The arts are fundamental to our common humanity,” the mother-daughter duo wrote. “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.”
Read their entire essay here.