Kate Shindle, President of Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers, released the following statement in reaction to President Trump’s proposed budget for 2018. The new budget plan again proposes to close the National Endowment for the Arts. The new budget includes just enough funding for “necessary expenses to carry out the closure of the National Endowment for the Arts.”
“The NEA supports middle-class arts jobs in every congressional district in the country. The last thing we need to do is slash a program that creates and sustains jobs in small and regional theaters all over America. Thousands of our members have already spoken up about how the NEA is an economic lifeline in so many places. Members of Congress heard us loud and clear when they decided to maintain the NEA’s funding for the rest of 2017. As Congress takes up the new budget, Actors’ Equity will continue our fight to protect the NEA’s critical seed funding that helps productions get off the ground in small and regional theaters.”
Equity has historically fought for increased funding and recognition of the NEA. Over the last few months, Equity launched an aggressive campaign to preserve the NEA after media reports emerged that President Trump might slash funding for the program. Shindle passionately demanded that Congress fund the NEA in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the very same day President Trump announced his proposed budget. The following week, Equity Councillors and rank and file members lobbied on the hill during National Arts Advocacy Day. Equity members across the country gathered to support the NEA, from rallies in New York to community discussions in Minneapolis. Equity gathered thousands of petitions from members and supporters of the arts asking Congress to fund the NEA. Equity also joined with a coalition that included 11 other national unions representing 4 million workers demanding that Congress fund the NEA.