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Arts programs, public broadcasters would lose funding under Pres. Trump's budget plan

The nonprofit SAY Sí has received $45,000 since 2011 from the NEA to provide free training to young people in visual arts, film, theatre, game design and new media. (Photo: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

SAN ANTONIO – Arts programs and public broadcasting would take a hit under President Donald Trump’s budget plan, while military spending and immigration enforcement efforts would see an influx of money.

Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which provides money to a handful of San Antonio organizations (and others nationwide), would be $0 under the president’s plan.

The nonprofit SAY Sí has received $45,000 since 2011 from the NEA to provide free training to young people in visual arts, film, theatre, game design and new media. Jon Hinojosa, the organization’s artistic executive director, said the funding is a small portion of its budget, but he called NEA the “gold standard” that attracts more local, regional and federal investment.

“It’s going to be a struggle again for so many community-based organizations because they’re already struggling to raise the kind of money and support that they need to do the good work that they’re doing in the inner cities,” Hinojosa said.

“The reason that we exist here in San Antonio, the reason SAY Sí exists is that there is very little funding in public schools for creative arts and arts education,” he added.

MILITARY, VETERANS WOULD BENEFIT FROM TRUMP’S BUDGET

The military and health care for veterans would be better funded if President Trump’s budget is approved. Gilbert Rodriguez, the commander of VFW Post 4700 on San Antonio’s Southeast Side, praised the addition of billions more dollars for the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs.

“I say that we spend a little more on defense on the budget for the military, I think that’s awesome because we need to be ahead and we need to be strong,” Rodriguez said.

“Fantastic, yes” was veteran Ignacio Rivera’s initial reaction the plan. He’s senior vice commander of the post.

However, neither Rodriguez nor Rivera support money earmarked for building the wall or hiring 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement law enforcement personnel in 2018.

“Those are not good things,” Rivera said.

As for the cuts, Rodriguez said: “It’s going to hurt the folks that are down here, the middle class.”

LOCAL PUBLIC BROADCASTERS STAND TO LOSE $1.3 MILLION

The president is calling for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to be defunded, which would impact local viewers and listeners.

Texas Public Radio, the NPR affiliate in San Antonio, receives 7 percent of its revenue – about $300,000 – from CPB, according to Joyce Slocum, president and CEO of TPR.

“It does not represent an existential threat,” she said, “but it would require us to look at our costs, and unfortunately, would likely result in diminished service to our local community.”

“I’m afraid that we’d have to cut back some on our local reporting,” Slocum added. “We might have to take a look at the shows we produce locally that are beyond our newscasts.”

PBS affiliate KLRN receives 12 percent of its budget – about $1 million – from CPB. Arthur Emerson, president and CEO, said the shortfall would jeopardize educational programming for children. KLRN airs 60 hours of children’s programming each week, he said.

Emerson said he’d be forced to reduce staff if the cuts happened right away, but because changes wouldn’t take effect until 2019, KLRN would have time to appeal to donors in an attempt to make up the difference.

PBS and NPR affiliates in smaller communities that rely more heavily on funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting could see their demise, Slocum said.

The public broadcasters point out each citizen pays about $1.35 per year for programming that is free of commercials.

‘SENDS A MESSAGE THAT OUR NATION DOES NOT VALUE CREATIVITY’

Another local organization that benefits from the National Endowment for the Arts is Blue Star Contemporary, which has received $15,000 each of the past two years to draw artists and their exhibits to San Antonio.

“It sends a message that our nation does not value creativity,” Mary Heathcott, BSC’s executive director, said in a statement. “We remember our predecessors through their cultural landmarks, artwork, and literary works. How are we to be remembered in the future?”

Federal lawmakers will ultimately determine the budget. SAY Sí's Hinojosa urges people to call or write their representatives in Congress and the Senate and to voice their opinions on how tax dollars should be spent.

"The budget that a president proposes is never the budget that is adopted," Hinojosa said.

@MichaelLocklear | mlocklear@sbgtv.com


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