Artists Issue Ivanka Appeals As Trump Indicates He Will End Federal Art Programs & PBS Funding

On January 16, Dear Ivanka organizers, the Halt Action Group (HAG), held their second New York rally asking Ivanka Trump to “pack” women’s rights, affordable health care, freedom of the press, and other things many Americans view as easily disposable by President-elect Donald Trump.

Ivanka Tump notified her fans last week about her upcoming move to Washington. We updated all the details in AOC Womens News: Ivanka Meets Queen Rania, Insists Her Primary Role Will Be Wife & Mother & Advocate For Women & Girls. 

ArtNet reports that the event attracted several hundred people, activists, artists and ordinary citizens who are operating under the dire hope that 1) Ivanka Trump is more rational than her father and 2) that she is more liberal than her father on key issues like women's rights and immigration.

“The Trump/Pence administration is a living nightmare and we will not normalize this election,” said footware designer Arden Wohl to artnet News of her decision to participate in the protest. Although she was friends with Ivanka when the two were growing up. Wohl says she has not seen her in some years.

Artist Marilyn Minter has been on the front end of these growing protests by activists and artists in particular. The conversation will surely escalate by tonight's confab with Minter & Madonna at the Brooklyn Museum, given today's breaking news that President-elect Trump has agreed to eliminate America's National Endowment for the Arts. Also receiving the ax would be any federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. "The NEA is welfare for cultural elitists," declares the Heritage Foundation.

In real money, federal funding has declined significantly. According to calculations by Americans for the Arts, if NEA's 1992 budget remained constant and was only adjusted for inflation, it would be $289 million in 2013, not $146 million.

Writing for the Washington Post, Philip Kennicott explains that these cuts are meant not to impact the deficit with their minimal impact, but "to eliminate the last vestigates of a public realm free of the dictates of the market.

The public realm–as opposed to commercial entertainment, including politics as currently practiced–produces ideas, information and emotional states that can’t be predicted, or controlled. It fosters the research that challenges venerable assumptions about the world; it generates the data which can point to the failings and blindness of people in power, and the often invisible frailty of our world; and it offers us ideas about the well-lived and ethical life that can’t be contained within the market’s understanding that winning is everything and consumption is paradise. It also creates webs of dependency and connection, on each other, on books, on art, on knowledge, that are, paradoxically, the well springs of genuine freedom.

In December, media outlets reported that Trump had approached Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone for the position of chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts but he declined. The 'Rocky' and 'Rambo' actor told Buzzfeed the actor has prioritized helping veterans as his focus.

PEN America executive director Suzanne Nossel has released a statement, articulating the worst fears ofthinking Americans, countless Hillary Clinton supporters, the hated bastion of people called the 'cultural' elite. The symbolism of President-elect Trump's cuts would "usher in a new Dark Ages in America." Here is the complete text of her remarks, via ArtNet:

The Trump administration’s plans, reported in The Hill this morning, to abolish wholesale the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts are an outrageous abdication of the U.S. government’s proud history of support for groundbreaking research and creative endeavors that have served as engines of innovation and bolstered America’s stature as a haven for free thinkers and a global leader in humanity’s shared quest for knowledge.

The National Endowment for the Humanities, founded in 1965, is a leading source of funding for humanities programs in the United States. Its grants support cultural institutions including museums, libraries, and public television, as well as universities and individual scholarship. It has supported over 7,000 book projects, including 16 Pulitzer Prize winners, and the United States Newspaper Project, cataloguing over 60 million pages of historic newspapers for future use by scholars.

The National Endowment for the Arts, also established in 1965, supports participation and scholarship in the arts, works to ensure equal access to arts and culture for all Americans, and partners with state and local leaders to support creative initiatives at the community level. Its funding supports literature, visual arts, dance, theater, museums, and arts education programs around the country.

The announcement that this is even under consideration casts a sinister cloud over our vibrant national culture, stoking fears that the Trump Administration aims to usher in a new Dark Ages in America. U.S. leadership and innovation in arts, culture, and the humanities are wellsprings of American greatness and the envy of the world. This proposal sends shivers down the spine of all Americans who value research, scholarship, and creativity and who recognize the mortal blow that eliminating these vital agencies would strike at the heart of treasured sectors of our society.  Even apart from the essential resources at stake, the signal sent by this gesture is a slap in the face to artists, writers, researchers, and scholars who are learning that the Administration seems to consider their work worthless.