“Trumping” the Future of our Children in the Mississippi Delta


On March 16, 2017, the Trump administration released the proposed federal budget for the 2018 fiscal year. Along with an increase in the defense budget, a variety of programs such as The Environmental Protection Agency, The Agricultural Department, and The Department of Commerce are in danger to receive significant cuts to their budgets. However, one of the most concerning proposals to the budget is the total elimination of Arts and Cultural Agencies.

During an appearance on “Fox and Friends”, White House Budget Director Mike Mulvaney said, “The president finally got to the point where he said, ‘do I really want to make the coal miner in West Virginia, or the auto worker in Ohio, or the single mom in Detroit pay for the National Endowment for the Arts or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?’ And the answer is no.”

While the case against the funding of the arts is virtually non-existent, except for politicians in favor of the budget plan, the case for preserving the funding is even greater.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Governor Mike Huckabee asserts that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funds children in poverty stricken areas and participation in the arts is directly correlated to better grades in schooling. He also stressed that 40% of NEA’s grants go to high-poverty neighborhoods and stimulate economic activity. The arts generate $135 billion in annual economic activity and support 4.1 million jobs.

Similarly, a report administered by the Obama administration titled “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools”, says that “decades of research show strong and consistent links between high-quality arts education and a wide range of impressive educational outcomes…cutting-edge studies in neuroscience have been further developing our understanding of how arts strategies support crucial brain development in learning.”

Under the Trump Administration’s proposed budget, the cuts to Arts and Cultural Agencies would:

  • Eliminate all $148 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and all $148 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Eliminate the $230 million Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Eliminates the $445 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports public television and radio, including PBS and NPR

The elimination of the four programs amounts to .02% of the federal budget. While that statistic may not seem like much, the $971 million that is being cut, according to The Washington Post, supports non-profit groups like dance companies, orchestras, museums, libraries, and other fundamental services.

This is not a bi-partisan issue, this is a direct attack on education, culture, and critical thinking. For instance, the elimination of the budget for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) puts educational programming for both children and adults at risk. The CPB funds programs such as Sesame Street and NPR that are vital to the dissemination of information to the American Public.

Nevertheless, these cuts could affect areas that are closer to home: Delta State University and Cleveland, Mississippi. Since 2008 alone, the NEA has awarded Delta State $1,377,566 million for the promotion of music, history, and culture of the Mississippi Delta. On the other hand, the NEA also provided essential funding for the building of Cleveland’s Grammy Museum.

Without this funding, what would Cleveland, Miss., be like? Would Delta State still have one of best music programs in the state? Would we still have the Bologna Performing Arts Center? What about the preservation of our culture and history along with the economic boost the Grammy Museum brings to our town?

The Mississippi Delta needs Art and Culture agencies more than anything for the growth of its future. Their funding is imperative to our children’s education, the stimulation of the economy, and most importantly: the invigoration of cognitive thought. To preserve the Delta’s rich culture, it starts with the diverse education of our children.