President Trump is apparently looking to completely eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the chairwoman for the federally-funded arts agency told staffers on Wednesday, according to a report.
No previous American President has proposed to put an end to the endowments, which were installed in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, who said during a signing ceremony that any “advanced civilization” should do its best in supporting the arts.
Chairwoman Jane Chu told staffers during an afternoon meeting that the proposed federal budget, set to be released by the White House early Thursday, does not include funding for the NEA or the NEH, three officials with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times.
Chu reportedly told the employees that she wanted them to find out about the potential cuts from her, not through media reports.
The agencies will continue to operate as Congress finalizes the budget over the coming months, Chu added. The staffers responded with sadness and surprise, but no blatant anger, according to one official.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment from the Daily News.
The NEA and the NEH have a combined annual budget of roughly $300 million — a modest portion of the total $1.1 trillion of the U.S. budget. Artists, musicians, authors and scholars have depended on grants from the agencies for decades.
The revelation prompted scathing criticism over social media, and some arts groups released late-night statements lamenting the proposed cuts.
The Association of Art Museum Directors, which represents 245 museum heads in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, expressed solidarity with the NEA and the NEH.
“Art touches people throughout their lives — from toddlers first learning about the world, to those with Alzheimer’s disease reconnecting with someone they love,” the association said in a statement, adding that it urges Congress to continue funding the agencies, “which play such an important role in our vibrant democracy.”
The White House is expected to roll out the official budget blueprint at 7 a.m. on Thursday. Several reports have outlined significant budget cuts to a number of federal agencies and a $54 billion boost in defense spending.
The proposed cuts have been harshly criticized by Democrats, climate scientists and activists since details began leaking to the media outlets last week.