13 Metro Phoenix Creatives React to Trump's Plans to Eliminate Arts Funding

Artist Audra Carlisle
Artist Audra Carlisle Roddy Nikpour

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click to enlarge Artist Douglas Miles - DOUG MILES
Artist Douglas Miles
Doug Miles
Douglas Miles
Artist; Founder, Apache Skateboards
Trump hates artists because it's been the artists and creatives in this country who have been most effective in ridiculing him as well as critiquing his exclusionary, xenophobic, and divisive platforms.

Paul Robeson said, “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization's radical voice.” Privatizing PBS, an educational channel, eliminating the NEA and the NEH, is a pathetic, futile attempt at silencing artists, creatives, and educators. They hope to stop critical thinking (learning via PBS) in media but can't because truth and time tell and has its own agenda.

Artists are already organizing, and many work outside these organizations. These cuts disguised as fiscal responsibility are merely attempts at discouraging artists and those supporting the arts. It won't work, because artists make art out out of pure need and the passion to create. The cuts will only incite massive creativity for the next four years.

click to enlarge Author Paul Mosier - PAUL MOSIER
Author Paul Mosier
Paul Mosier
Paul Mosier
It's a recurring theme for conservatives to view with contempt the arts, to think that society and the government it elects has no place in providing for the support of arts that may have limited economic viability. This is bad news for art in many forms, from opera to ballet to classical orchestras and jazz ensembles, and poets, and many others. It's also bad news for those whose ability to experience art is limited by their economic condition. A society cannot consider itself great without great arts. Artists are key to economic revitalization, and the arts are the expression of the soul of a community. Privatization, and any other measures that make the existence, expression, and experience of the arts more about money will serve to bankrupt the soul of our communities.

click to enlarge Artist Rembrandt Quiballo - REMBRANDT QUIBALLO
Artist Rembrandt Quiballo
Rembrandt Quiballo

Rembrandt Quiballo

This is ominous news and very much expected with the incoming administration. The arts have always been perceived as a bastion of progressive thought and goes against everything Trump feels he needs to stand for. It’s uncertain if he will actually go through with these cuts, but I think art is an easy target for Trump and would be an effective way for him to please his supporters on a surface level. Because funding for the arts is relatively minuscule and would have no real impact on reducing the federal budget. It’ll look good on his Twitter feed for a couple of hours.

It just makes it harder for artists to advance; however, we’re used to the struggle. This makes it more vital for DIY-type groups in the valley like Eye Lounge, Cut+Paste PHX, Four Chambers Press, Femme Fotale, or PHXSUX to continue to exist as independent culture producers. These advocates of creativity will continue to thrive in the vast cultural wasteland that a majority of the Phoenix Metro Area tends to be, regardless of what Trump enacts. I think this is what makes the Phoenix art community exceptional, in that it continues to thrive despite all the challenges we face locally and nationally. The people who work to create the scene do it for the love and the belief that art makes our lives better, and Trump has no effect on that.

click to enlarge Ralph Remington, Arts and Culture Deputy Director for the City of Tempe - DAVE WOLF/TEMPE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Ralph Remington, Arts and Culture Deputy Director for the City of Tempe
Dave Wolf/Tempe Center for the Arts
Ralph Remington
Arts and Culture Deputy Director, City of Tempe
As a former Director of Theater and Musical Theater at the National Endowment for the Arts, I have seen how arts funding can positively transform lives and communities. I hope that President Trump will thoroughly examine the impact that drastic arts funding cuts would have on the communities that he serves. The arts saves lives. As a kid growing up in West Philly, it certainly saved mine.

click to enlarge Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Rios - ANDY DE LISLE/ASU
Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Rios
Andy De Lisle/ASU
Alberto Rios
Poet Laureate, State of Arizona
Cutting and destroying are the easiest things to do. But building an abiding human legacy, as the arts have done, is hard work in a complex world, without instruction or precedent. Cutting means the hard work will become the harder work, so that yet again the taxing burden on the existence of the artist rises as it has so many times throughout history. It is an old lesson with a familiar outcome — we quote the artists and survive the politicians.

click to enlarge Grownup Navajo founder Jaclyn Roessel - JACLYN ROESSEL
Grownup Navajo founder Jaclyn Roessel
Jaclyn Roessel
Jaclyn Roessel
Founder, Grownup Navajo; Museum Professional
I am incredibly disappointed and outraged at the proposal to eliminate the NEA and the NEH agencies. Having been on the board of the Arizona Humanities, the local affiliate of the NEH, I have seen the power of the government dollars at work. From programs that create spaces for veterans to write and share as a way to quell the impacts of PTSD, to programs that bring people together from all backgrounds to discuss human experiences. I have listened to poets talk about their identity and scholars talk about race in America.

Working as both an artist and a museum professional, I have visited numerous museums in Arizona and across the country who receive funding from the NEA. These dollars have created intersections for experimentation in the arts while also creating of art in rural communities because of these funds. Our city of Phoenix has an amazing Public Arts programs that the Office of Phoenix Arts and Culture is able to maintain with the help of NEA funding.

Growing up on my reservation in northern Arizona, I watched Sesame Street incessantly and learned! The humanities and arts matter; they help us understand the importance of personhood and agency. In Diné (Navajo) teaching, we believe in honoring the responsibility we have to one another – we have a rich kinship system which not just tells us how we are related but we also understand, outside our Navajo community – as Bilá ashlaa’ or five-fingered people, we are connected to everyone. This is why I am so moved to protect these agencies which help make this work accessible. I firmly believe that many of the social issues our communities face are exacerbated by our inability to empathize with one another. The arts and programs that promote the humanities through vehicles like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the NEH, challenge us to look beyond ourselves. The elimination of the NEA and NEH and privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting promises to irreparably damage our community's ability to engage a variety of voices in elevating our ability to see one another and the contributions we make to our society overall.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble