The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE), a coalition of 12 national unions including Actors Equity Association, has penned a letter to members of Congress in defense of sustaining funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The letter, signed by AEA President Kate Shindle, is in response to the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to the NEA, set to go into effect in the fall.
In the letter, the DPE outlines that private money will not be able to replace the gap left over from government funding, which will ultimately result in the loss of middle-class jobs in smaller, more rural communities. The cuts will heavily impact regional theatre productions, which rely on NEA grants, argues the coalition. “The most acute economic pain [will be] felt far from the sound stages of Hollywood and bright lights of Broadway,” reads the letter.
The DPE represents over 4 million professional and technical workers, including actors, choreographers, directors, musicians, performers, instrumentalists, writers, singers, stage managers, and other professionals in the arts, entertainment, and media industry.
“We urge Congress, at a minimum, to maintain current funding levels,” reads the letter, which also rallies against budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). “Ending federal support for the NEA, NEH, or CPB would be a radical, unprecedented action that would harm everyday people, particularly individuals who live far from metropolitan cultural centers.”
“Donald Trump wrote The Art of the Deal,—funding the NEA, National Endowment for the Humanities and Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a good deal for our economy. The President says he wants to create jobs—he can start by protecting our nation's investment in middle class arts jobs,” AEA’s executive director Mary McColl told Playbill.
The letter emerges just a day after members of the New York theatre community—including Broadway performers and Actors’ Equity leaders—took to the steps of City Hall on April 3 to rally in support of the NEA.
Watch footage from the rally below: