David Byrne pens essay protesting Trump’s proposed cuts to the arts

The Talking Heads frontman protested the proposed budget cuts outside New York City Hall and penned the essay What Good Are The Arts?

On Monday (3 April), the artist protested the President’s recent proposal to cut the funding for the National Endowments for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Institute of Library and Museum Services.

According to the New York Daily News the artist said at the rally outside the capital’s City Hall, “You may hate the arts. You may hate the stuff that people paint and the theatre that they do, but do you want to lose all those jobs? Do we want to kill this part of the economy?”

In an essay entitled What Good Are The Arts? on his site, the musician wrote: “This is a political move—it really doesn’t amount to much money—it’s a tiny part of the federal budget. The amount of federal funding is $741 million, which sounds like a lot, but is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the United States’ annual federal spending, an amount supporters say is too small to make a difference in the budget if it was cut. On a budget pie chart it doesn’t even show up, it’s too small.”

The artist went on to cite a study by the Arts and Economic Prosperity, which found that “nationally the non-profit arts (we’re not talking about Broadway shows, pop concerts, video games, movies or the art world) generates $135.2 BILLION in economic activity in the US.”

His statements echo the previous sentiments of PEN America’s petition opposing the cuts, which was signed by leading art figures such as Marina Abramović, Jasper Johns and Cindy Sherman.

Read the full essay here.