What it means to defund the NEA

Stella McGregor on the Urbano Project and the NEA

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Since its conception in 2007, the Urbano Project has offered a community space for participatory art in Jamaica Plain. Urbano’s founder, Stella McGregor, explained that Urbano is her way of working with communities and youth to explore what art is and how it can be used in creative engagement.

Urbano Project’s current featured exhibition is a travelling library of Spanish books curated by the New York artist Pablo Helguera.

“It has been super exciting to bring an artist that we totally respect to Urbano,” McGregor said. “This installation has been travelling since 2013 and in each place it has been the only solely Spanish bookstore in every city it has gone to –  it has brought in a lot of different people and exposed a lot of them to contemporary art.”

Because of the niche reach of the Urbano Project, a considerable percentage of their funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts.

President Donald Trump released a partial plan for his 2018 budget in mid-March, introducing a plan to defund several national programs, one of which is the National Endowment for the Arts. The National Endowment offers funding to local and national arts organizations across the United States and many arts foundations are concerned about the proposal’s effect on local arts.

“It works like a ripple effect,” McGregor said. “I think the defunding of the NEA is going to have serious ramifications in terms of the funding for nonprofits. For larger cultural organizations like the MFA or the ICA, the NEA funding is significant, but it also a very small portion of their full budget.”

Matthew Wilson, executive director for the arts advocacy group MASS Creative said the NEA provides money for small and mid-size arts organizations that don’t get the same private funding as larger institutions.

“Smaller groups can be more experimental if they receive this public funding” Wilson said. Many other arts advocates agree.

On March 28th, MASS Creative along with hundreds of other arts enthusiasts marched for Arts Advocacy Day to show their support for arts funding. According to a video of the event posted by HowlRound, Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College, said “President Lyndon Johnson said that arts is a nation’s most precious heritage. Johnson spoke these words at the signing of the bill that created the national endowment for the arts and the national endowment for the humanities, the very agencies our current administration seeks to defund. This is a critical moment to make our voices heard.”

MASS Creative advocates for art groups in Massachusetts by encouraging political leaders to understand the impact of art and culture on the economy and quality of life. Members of the group work to lobby for government policy and regulations that promote and fund cultural efforts. Wilson said the defunding of the NEA would be a “blow to the community” and that the budget for arts and culture has decreased significantly in the last 20 years.

Wilson remains hopeful when it comes to future funding of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“I have real doubts about whether the president’s proposal is going to go through,” Wilson said. “The impact would be significant on Massachusetts, but it would be much more significant in other states. New Hampshire gets about fifty percent of its’ art funding from the NEA. In Massachusetts, it’s only six or seven percent.”

Some conservative groups support the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. Laurence Jarvik, of the Heritage Foundation, explains in his article “Ten Good Reasons to Eliminate the Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts,” that the NEA will not affect funding overall for arts institutions. He also refers to the NEA as “welfare for the cultural elitists.”

Those involved in many art institutions – large or small – disagree with the stance that the NEA is irrelevant. Kathy Sharpless, the director of Marketing and Communications for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, said that while major institutions in Boston are not fully funded by the NEA, the public funding that museums receive encourages private donors to contribute and helps legitimize their institutions.

“Without sounding trite: how can you not support the culture in our country?” Sharpless said. “The NEA guarantees access to arts and arts preservation for the country. For diverse culture in our country, this funding is essential.”

Sharpless also emphasized the impact that NEA funding has on smaller arts groups in Boston and across the country.

“If the NEA gets defunded, so many of the smaller arts groups lose a huge chunk of their ability to present or to perform for audiences,” Sharpless said. “It absolutely means that the very real pressure put on all art institutions to gain private funding becomes that much more difficult.”

Sharpless said that while no part of the Stewart Gardner’s funding is completely dependent on the NEA, the funding they do receive helps preservation projects and new exhibitions at the museum. Their current exhibition “Listen Hear: The Art of Sound” was partially funded by the NEA and the NEH. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum received a grant from the NEA in 2017 for $35,000.

Myran Parker-Brass is the Executive Director for the Arts with Boston Public Schools. Parker-Brass said she was appalled at the proposed cuts for the National Endowment for the Arts.

“We have been very fortunate to receive NEA funding,” Parker-Brass said. “Those national dollars are many times the driver for local philanthropic funding to reach out as well. When folks see the federal government is invested in what you are doing, it helps drive additional funds.”

Parker-Brass is optimistic that the budget will not pass, but says that while she believes the NEA will not be defunded, the overall funding could take a hit, which would really affect mid-size organizations.

“Will the NEA take a hit? Maybe,” Parker-Brass said. “But if we look at the percentage of funds in the federal budget that go to NEA it is very small – I don’t know what you garner in cutting those entities.”

Indeed, these cuts would affect smaller-scale arts foundations like the non-profit Urbano Project and countless others like it across the nation.

IMG_8051.jpg“I’ve always been working in the nonprofit field” Stella McGregor of the Urbano Project said. “And these projects rely heavily on public funding because they are not traded commodities.”

David McLellan: A Boston Marathon Story

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Courtesy of Gina McLellan

The Boston Marathon is a cultural phenomenon unique to Massachusetts. Especially given the recent history of the Marathon bombing in April of 2013, many Boston residents see the marathon as a time to come together as a community and show the world that they are truly “Boston Strong.”

David McLellan, father of two, was raised in Western Massachusetts and grew up in Amherst and Boston.

“We are Massachusetts kids through and through,” McLellan said.

McLellan has run the Boston marathon five times. This year he was unable to run in the marathon due to an injury, but running has become an important part of his life and the lives of his daughters.

News Track Blog Week 12

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Courtesy of Max Pixel

The article I chose to analyze this week was Vox News’ “Hip Hop is Politics.

The article that compliments this video piece is relatively short. I think the written piece could have benefitted from including some of the information in the video for those readers/viewers who would prefer to read about what is in the video before they watch it.

The video does a good job of synthesizing information from different phases of hip-hop into a chronology and including bits of audio from the songs to enhance the viewer’s experience and prove the points of the article further.

It think the video could have benefitted from some sort of graphic timeline incorporated into the chronology to give an additional visual element to the piece and help the viewer organize the information more visually.

News Track Blog Week 11

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Courtesy of WikiMedia

For this week’s news track, I decided to look at Vox News’ article titled: “The War in Syria, explained.”

The article is a much more expansive than the video and also includes a number of other multimedia elements. I think the way that the video explains the Syria conflict also exhibits strong use of B-roll as well as graphic elements to make a complex international conflict much more simple for the average person to understand.

The article is much more extensive than some of the other articles I have analyzed from this website, but it is broken up into digestible sections with photos.

News Track Blog Week 10

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Courtesy of WikiMedia

 

This week I looked at Vox News’ article titled: “Comedians have figured out the trick to covering Trump.”

The video does an good job of splicing the methodology of comedians covering Trump’s ravings, and shows the ways in which they are similar.

The video also has a main reporter that we come back to, and the reporter does a good job of moving the narrative of the story along well. The video does rely a decent amount on B-roll from other sources, but it makes sense as that is the main point of the piece.

The piece could have benefitted from an interview with a comedian and talking about the way they go about covering Trump scandals. The additional interview they did could have benefitted from being higher quality footage – it does not fit in with the rest of the footage.

NEA Interview #2

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Courtesy of Pixabay

 

For my second interview for my final project, I interviewed Kathy Sharpless, the director of Marketing and Communications for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

My two favorite quotes from this interview were:

“Without sounding trite: how can you not support the culture in our country?” Sharpless said. “The NEA guarantees access to arts and arts preservation for the country. For diverse culture in our country, this funding is essential.”

“If the NEA gets defunded, so many of the smaller arts groups lose a huge chunk of their ability to present or to perform for audiences,” Sharpless said. “It absolutely means that the very real pressure put on all art institutions to gain private funding becomes that much more difficult.”

NEA article Interview # 1

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Courtesy of Max Pixel

 

This week I interviewed Matt Wilson. He is the Executive Director for an arts advocacy group called MASS Creative.

These are my favorite two quotes:

“The NEA provides money for small and mid-size arts organizations that don’t get the same private funding as larger institutions,” Wilson said. “Smaller groups can be more experimental if they receive this public funding.”

“I have real doubts about whether the president’s proposal is going to go through,” Wilson said. “The impact would be significant on Massachusetts, but it would be much more significant in other states. New Hampshire gets about fifty percent of its’ art funding from the NEA. In Massachusetts, it’s only six or seven percent.”

News Track Blog Week 9

 

 

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Courtesy of Pixabay

The article I chose to review this week was Vox New’s article titled: “This video explains why knights in medieval art fought snails.”

The title basically sums up exactly what the viewer wants to see. In this case I think it is an effective title because it gives what it promises, but I think they could make the title a little shorter in terms of making it more eye-catching to a viewer that is scrolling through the site or pages on Google.

As far as the multimedia aspects go, the post is successful in its use of the video and the article below is short enough that is compliments the information in the video while leaving some information to be discovered in the video. In terms of our projects I think it would be the opposite case, but for this article it works.

The video is overall well put together. It follows the six-second rule for clips, it offers a lot of visuals, and it even keeps your attention with a few jokes.

News Track Blog Week 8

The piece I chose to analyze this week – that is conveniently tied to my final project proposal a little – is an article on Vox News called “Trump says he’ll destroy ISIS. His budget would make that a lot harder.” 

 

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Courtesy of WikiMedia

The article does a nice job of summing up some difficult topics – like international relations, war, and the national budget – and turns them into a very readable paragraph.

The article could benefit from maybe a video of the Trump Administration explaining the budget in a piffy way with a debunking of that budget plan – in terms of ISIS – to help illustrate their point in a more visual way.

Or the piece could use a more interactive graphic to explain some of the numbers in the budget in a visual way instead of just using photos as their only form of multimedia.

Overall, the piece is lacking in multimedia aspects.