Kenneth Fischer, president of University of Michigan's University Musical Society. He is one of several experts available to comment on President Trump's proposed budget cuts to NEA, NEH. For a full list visit:

"Spending on the National Endowment for the Arts is a drop in the bucket of overall government spending—0.003 percent of all federal spending in 2016—but it is so critically important to individual artists, to nonprofit arts organizations and to the communities that they serve," he said. "Forty percent of that allocation is made directly to state and regional arts councils and agencies, allowing decisions about support to be made on a local level. The 4.7 million workers in the arts economy are all taxpayers, and the arts organizations where they work are essentially locally owned businesses that can't be outsourced. Furthermore, arts organizations contribute to healthy local economies by spending money on materials and hospitality.

"But even more important than the economic benefits are what the arts provide to the soul of a community. The arts provide transcendent moments for people to connect with each other, with their community, to engage in dialogue about how we are similar and how we are different. In short, to heal wounds that may or may not be visible. The arts bring together Republicans and Democrats, people of all races and ethnicities, all celebrating what it means to be human, and American.

"If the goal of the new administration is 'America First,' then we should be supporting American artists who will leave a legacy that will last for decades, if not centuries, about what it means to be an American, as expressed through the arts. To 'make America great again' we should be increasing, not decreasing, funding for the arts and humanities."

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