Members of the Creative Coalition advocacy group will carry crayons and paintbrushes at awards events this weekend, Variety has learned exclusively.
The “Operation Paintbrush” effort is part of the group’s Right to Bear Arts campaign to support government funding for the arts. A Jan. 19 report in The Hill said that members of President Trump’s transition team have a plan to shrink the federal bureaucracy that would include eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, the main outlet for government grants to arts organizations.
Another part of the plan would privatize the Corp. for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding to the Public Broadcasting System and public radio stations, including National Public Radio.
“Supporting the arts isn’t a red state issue or a blue state issue, it is an American issue,” said Tim Daly, president of the Creative Coalition. “Our government should be proud to support the organizations that bring arts programs to every corner of our country. This week when we celebrate some of our greatest American artists, it is important to remember the thousands of children who would not have been exposed to or participated in the arts if it weren’t for these programs.”
CEO Robin Bronk said, “If America eliminates public funding for the arts, it won’t hurt Hollywood, it won’t hurt Broadway, but it will hurt small town theatres, and museums, and countless community organizations across our country.”
The coalition’s campaign has noted that in 2016, funding for NEA was $148 million, representing 0.003% of the federal budget. “According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal deficit is $599 billion, which means 3,777 NEAs would have to be cut to balance it,” it added.
The group also noted that 40% of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods and 36% of NEA grants go to organizations that reach underserved populations such as people with disabilities, people in institutions and veterans.
NEA has awarded more than 145,000 grants, including early support for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial design competition, the Sundance Film Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, PBS’s Great Performances series, and the American Film Institute.