Arts leaders and a conservative policy-maker clashed over President Trump’s plan to do away with federal funding for the arts at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
“Do we really want [the] Trump administration influencing art?” asked Romina Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann Research Fellow for budgetary affairs at the Heritage Foundation.
Robin Bronk, CEO of the Creative Coalition, shot back: “We’re talking about the federal government funding arts, not the government making judgments on what is art.”
The panel, “Public Funding for the Arts: The New Priorities,” got heated when Boccia insisted that President Trump should stay out of the arts and that federal funding isn’t necessary for arts to thrive.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris and Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk also participated in the discussion that was moderated by TheWrap’s editor in chief Sharon Waxman.
President Donald Trump recently made good on a long-time conservative goal in his first proposed budget, targeting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities for elimination.
Boccia insisted that “more private money would go towards the arts” under Trump’s plan and claimed federal funding for the arts have been “frozen for years” and “private funding helps arts flourish.”
“Any child that has the arts has better chance of succeeding,” Bronk said.
Boccia responded that she was not debating the merits of the arts, but the merits of keeping the arts independents of government interference. Waxman challenged that premise by asking what harm has been demonstrated that government funding damages the independence of artists.
Carteris, a former star of “Beverly Hills 90210,” gave the example of a small town that benefitted from a local library, funded in part by the NEA. And she said she willingly pays taxes because she wants to her money to go toward values that include the arts.
Trump’s budget would zero out the $445 million budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a relatively small 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.
The Power Women Breakfast series brings together influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands in key cities to network and connect. The franchise is now in four cities Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Wednesday’s keynote speakers were actress Elisabeth Moss and author Margaret Atwood, speaking about the new Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” A panel discussion on “Covering Trump: The Women on the Front Line” included Carrie Budoff Brown, the editor of Politico; Cecilia Vega, Senior White House Correspondent for ABC News; and Christina Wilkie, White House reporter for The Huffington Post. Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher moderated.
Previous speakers at TheWrap’s Power Women breakfast series have included Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, comedian Chelsea Handler, “Game of Thrones'” actress Emilia Clarke, activist-actress Selma Hayek, “Billions” star Malin Akerman, producer and entrepreneur Gail Berman, California Senator Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd, media executive Nancy Tellem and digital executive Susan Lyne.
The event was sponsored Hulu, Discovery, SAG-AFTRA and Creative Future.