The Arts Strike Back: MET Opera Vs The President

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 19 February 2017 | 7:54:00 am

Siegfried may not be the only one fighting dragons at the MET
Lost amongest so much media coverage of Donald J Trump's administration, are his plans to close down both the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. Admittedly, public funding for the arts in the US is already the lowest of any developed country - and some less developed - however, eliminating these two sources of funding, however small that they are, may impact Trump supporters the most: the poor and those in rural communities.

To give an idea of how serious things are, the MET's Peter Gelb warned listeners, midway through this Saturdays live broadcast, .that many of the stations they were listening to would risk severe cuts or even closure, Said Gelb, "I think it’s really important that people be aware of this: The possibility of losing the arts on the radio, losing the arts on television, losing the arts altogether is very real if these cuts were to go through,". At the same time, the St. Louis Symphony sent an email asking its board members to call their elected representatives in the hope of stopping the cuts.

In an interview with the New York Times, Hollywood star Robert Redford, the president and founder of the Sundance Institute, went as far as to say; "“It’s another example of our democracy being threatened. Arts are essential. They describe and critique our society.”

As is often the case with such cuts, it will be those living in poorer, rural communities and smaller towns, who came out in force to vote for Trump, that will suffer the most. As Martin Miller, the executive director of TheatreSquared, said today, "“The N.E.A. has a big impact in the middle of country — even more so, I suspect, than in urban areas where funding is more diversified. Losing the N.E.A. would mean that many smaller, mid-American arts companies couldn’t weather a recession. Losing these companies would mean fewer jobs, a lower quality of life and less local spending in the small towns that need it most.”