Robert Redford Pens Open Letter Defending NEA Against Proposed Budget Cuts

Robert Redford Sundance 2017 opening conference
Robert Redford Sundance 2017 opening press conference

Robert Redford has added his voice to the chorus of those fighting back against President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts of federal funding to the arts.

In an open letter, posted on the Sundance Institute’s website on Sunday, Redford wrote, “I believe the NEA must not only survive, but thrive.”

“More than dollars, the NEA represents a civilization that values critical and creative thought,” he wrote. “Which is why I’m asking you to please join me in adding your voice to the chorus of concerned citizens by contacting your congressional representative and voicing your opposition to these cuts.”


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“In 1981, the National Endowment for the Arts played a fundamental role in helping me create Sundance Institute,” it goes on. “The proposed defunding of the NEA’s budget would gut our nation’s long history of support for artists and arts programs and it would deprive all our citizens of the culture and diversity the humanities brings to our country.”

The National Endowment for the Arts, which would lose all of its federal funding under Trump’s proposed budget, has made significant contributions to the Sundance Institute, including, as Redford noted in the letter, a $25,000 grant to help launch its first labs for independent filmmaking.

“That first promising investment from the NEA, and their belief in my project was vital to launching programs that now support tens of thousands of American artists working in film and theater and new media,” he added.

The proposed budget, which was outlined to Congress on Thursday morning, would also eliminate all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in addition to the NEA, while increasing defense spending by $54 billion. It’s a move that has provoked backlash from Hollywood in particular, which has spoken out in defense of organizations like PBS, NPR, and others that would be affected by the cuts.

Redford credited the NEA with helping to launch the Sundance Film Festival, “which turned into the leading international showcase for new voices and new artists to launch their work and find audiences for stories outside the mainstream.”

“This is entirely the wrong approach at entirely the wrong time,” he concluded. “We need to invite new voices to the table, we need to offer future generations a chance to create, and we need to celebrate our cultural heritage.”

Read Redford’s full letter here.

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  1. Sct says:

    But Bobbie ….. both of them … the nea grant that you got to start sundance……
    WAS MONEY FROM RICH DONORS…. like you are now….. get it.
    The nea govnmnt money goes for salaries and expenses , and office space. Your pal running it makes $600,000 yr. plus health INS and pension. Start there. Donate directly to artists and under a specific contract for what a donation can be spent on. All the charity foundations are scams with only 5% being spent on the actual cause for the charity.
    Running charities must be done now with all volunteers.

  2. The ‘arts’ are violating God’s copyright (Commandment #2- Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) everyday!

    Mankind are taking their manmade copyright very seriously, while constantly copying God with graven (permanent, fixed) images (copies) of His magnificent design and creative work in painting, sculpture, photography, technology etc. pp.

  3. Maftin Goldblum says:

    Federal spending must be curtailed. National debt=GDP; how much further can we go. Is NEA federal funding more important than dollars for education of our youth. I think not. As pointed out the funding of NEA can and should come from private donors.

  4. Joanne says:

    NEA budget is $148 mil. Find 592 Hollywood actors, studio heads and the like to put $250,000 where their mouths are.

  5. Cheese Cake says:

    Dear Robert Redford, you are worth well over $100 mil. Please put your money where your mouth is. And, keep your mouth off my tax dollars. Thanks!

    • Steve says:

      Civilized societies support the arts.

      Full stop.

      • Dori says:

        For years these so called “artists” have insulted Americans, Christians, Republicans and anyone else that has different opinions. You make offensive “art” that insults half of the country. Our TV shows, movies, plays, art exhibits are filled with political propaganda, insulting characterizations, filth, gross-out “humor”, porn level sex scenes, disgustingly real violence, lies, and plain old trash. Your “artists” get up at their self-congratulatory awards shows and denigrate half of the audience, our country, and our President. You insult our Vice President and his daughter when they pay to come to your play by interrupting the show to publicly call them out for having a different opinion than you. You make watching TV a study of 1930s Germany-like propaganda. Your artists spend millions on their plastic surgery, designer clothes, beauty treatments and other things for themselves, while pretending to care about the poor. You accuse others of misogyny and sexism, while choosing to work in the most sexist and misogynistic industry on the planet. You openly display your hypocrisy, while pointing your well manicured fingers at others. It is like going to dinner with a lot of people and the whole time you insult and denigrate half of the table, then expect those you have insulted to pay your tab. As long as these so called “artists” continue to act like ill-mannered, low class, ungrateful hoosiers, we tax payers will refuse to take money from our families that cannot afford $1200 haircuts, and $2500 handbags and give to YOU!! Put your own money where your mouth is. You have plenty. Every time Americans elect a Republican you throw disgusting tantrums that are an embarrassment to our entire country. You make movies and videos about assassinating them. You harass their families and their children. You act like vulgar hillbillies. Clean up your act. Stop insulting America and Americans. Stop whining. You make millions in this country for reading cue cards. Grow the hell up. Learn some manners and some class. Act like the very lucky adults that you are. Until then, fund your own trash. Start writing decent scripts, instead of the preachy, formulaic, boring, predictable nonsense that you try and shove down our throats. We are sick of your low class behavior and tantrums. Enough!

      • Joanne says:

        Ooh, full stop. Guess the discussion is over.

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