New York – Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has released the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts of $27.4 billion of programs, which includes a request to cut $110 million from the 2021 fiscal year budget for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. According to media reports, through a process called rescission, the president can request that Congress cede budget authority over certain programs for which money has been allocated, but not yet spent. While Congress processes the request, funding for these programs can be frozen for up to 45 days.
"It's sad, but unsurprising, that Donald Trump would try to wreak havoc and cause more damage on his way out the door, given that he has tried to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts since 2017," said Kate Shindle, president of Actors' Equity Association. “The NEA is responsible for keeping the lights on at arts organizations in every state. These institutions are not only finding ways to support their communities during a pandemic, but they also continue to provide middle-class jobs in an industry that is facing record unemployment. We look forward to having a pro-arts, pro-worker President take office this week."
Equity has long made public arts funding a cornerstone of the union’s advocacy, and the Trump administration has often put arts funding at an existential risk. Beginning in March 2017, the president announced his intent to eliminate the NEA altogether. Equity President Kate Shindle was in Washington, D.C. at the time of this announcement, and spoke at the National Press Club in response to defend arts funding. Not only did the NEA continue as a bipartisan governmental program, but bipartisan efforts in Congress have led to a budgetary increase of over $7 million last year.
ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org #EquityWorks
January 19, 2021