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Gillibrand says cuts to the arts would be devastating

Tom Magnarelli
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand with Erie Canal Museum Executive Director Natalie Stetson.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is voicing her objection to President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate funding of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. The cuts would have a direct effect on organizations in central New York.

At the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, Executive Director Natalie Stetson said federal funding allows them to do special projects. Funding helped them produce a documentary called, “Boom and Bust."

“We’re taking it to canal communities around the state and doing some storytelling and music around that," Stetson said. "It’s a fun way for us to reach out to constituents around the state because we have a statewide national story we’re telling here. It’s something we would never be able to do without federal support.”

Gillibrand offered her support during a recent visit to the museum.

“These are horrible cuts and irresponsible and we see what the impact would be right here in our community by highlighting what would happen to museums like this, that we wouldn’t have them,” Gillibrand said.

Some Trump supporters say activists are making mountains out of molehills, that the funding will end up being there, it’s just about trimming the fat.

“There’s no fat in arts, humanities, sciences and museums," Gillibrand said. "It doesn’t exist. We use every dime that is publicly available to do amazing things.”

Eliminating NEA funding is part of a proposed budget put forth by Trump, but Congress will also have a say.

"The budget as written is destructive, not just for the arts, humanities, sciences and libraries, but for a whole host of ways," Gillibrand said. "This budget cannot be replicated by the House or the Senate. But they are only not going to include those cuts if we fight hard. We're going to need to raise our voices, stand up and demand something different."

Gillibrand encouraged residents to call their local representatives to tell them to save the grants.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.