We are a university committed to sustaining the depth and breadth of our shared cultural life—across all creative fields, across a range of historical eras, and representing local, national, and global regions of the world. As most of you are aware, President Donald Trump has proposed a budget that calls for the elimination of every federal cultural agency that helps us to advance this mission—the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The budgets for these organizations are relatively small compared to other sources of federal spending; one might question why they are threatened with elimination.
Meanwhile, the impact of these organizations is exponential. On our own campus, they have allowed our faculty, curators, students, and community members to experience major exhibitions, screenings, and performances; they have allowed us to conduct groundbreaking archival research, to preserve irreplaceable collections, and to produce and feature the research and creative work of UC Berkeley scholars, artists, film-makers, performers, poets, novelists, architects, and designers. Meanwhile, our many Bay Area partners have relied upon these resources to create meaningful community programs, to sustain their collections, and to establish partnerships with UC Berkeley and other organizations that serve our wider community. We stand with our campus organizations and our off-campus partners who have expressed their grave concern—see the statements of BAMPFA, Cal Performances, SFMOMA, OMCA, The Crucible, YBCA, – and many more campus departments and regional organizations.
A thriving democracy depends upon a thriving cultural life, one that is accessible and dynamic, one that recalls the lessons of history and that responds to the urgencies of our contemporary moment. Our federal agencies provide, not simply financial support, but essential symbolic support. They tell our children and the world that the United States believes in the cultivation of the human imagination. If you share our dismay about the President’s budget proposal, we strongly urge you to take action:
- Write to Congress. Contact forms provided by the Americans for the Arts can be found here. Find your representative and their contact information here.
- Participate in Arts Advocacy Day on Monday, March 20. Information about the day of action can be found here.
- Share resources and information online and in person.
Thank you for your attention.
Associate Vice Chancellor, Arts + Design Initiative
Director, Arts Research Center