Friday, March 18, 2016

Election Update and What It Means for the Arts

Good morning
"And the beat goes on……………"

And the insanity that is this election continues.

We still don't know what Trump's position on the arts is.

We do, however, now know exactly what Ted Cruz's position on the arts is.  On his website he lists 25 federal agencies he would immediately eliminate on his ascendancy to the Presidency, including the National Endowments of the Arts and of the Humanities (and PBS funding too).  If Cruz is President, the Endowments are history.

The chance for an open (brokered) GOP Convention looms larger, and were that to happen, the chances that, if Trump were denied the nomination, his supporters would likely go ballistic.  Can it happen?  Yes.  If no candidate has the requisite number of pledged delegates on the first ballot, and that is a possibility, then all delegates are free to vote for anyone they choose on subsequent ballots.  Those are the rules, Trump's whining notwithstanding.  And his argument that if he has the most delegates, and he's close to the fifty percent plus one,  he should get the nomination is like a football team arguing that they were close to scoring a touchdown - within inches even, and so they should be given the points.  Absurd.  Would Trump delegates defect and vote for someone else on a second or later ballot?  Unlikely, but we won't know until it happens, if it happens.   A big problem for Republicans if their convention blows up.

Clearly, there are those in the Republican party who believe that were Trump to get the nomination that would so damage the brand of the party, that even a loss to the Democrats would be preferable to ceding the party to the Trump outliers.  There are also those who believe it more important to defeat the Democrats even if that means supporting a Trump or a Cruz, no matter how distasteful that might be.  Rock and a hard place for them.

But victory by the Republicans in their bid for the White House seems likely to be very bad news for federal arts funding.

Randy Cohen at Americans for the Arts recently announced new public opinion sampling that we might use in lobbying Congress or State legislatures or City municipal governments.  The study clearly indicates that 1) Americans support arts funding; and more noteworthy, 2) Americans would support elected officials who vote for that support.  (And, that likely voters, are even more likely to vote for an official who supported the arts than unlikely voters.)  That's a big deal.  That's very valuable information to make your local elected officials aware of, because it gives them cover for a positive vote.

According to the study:

  • "Americans support increasing federal arts funding: When asked about increasing federal government grants to arts organizations from a per capita rate of 45 cents up to $1—effectively doubling the NEA budget—more than half of Americans support the move (54 percent). Likely voters are significantly more likely to support this increase than unlikely voters (56 percent vs. 34 percent).
  • State and local government arts funding has high approval ratings: Twice as many Americans approve of their state and local governments awarding grants to artists and arts organizations than disapprove: local government (57 percent vs. 25 percent); state government (55 percent vs. 27 percent).
  • Community-oriented arts funding has high public value: When presented with specific types of arts funding opportunities, public support skyrockets. Respondents are especially likely to favor government arts funding for art in parks and public spaces (71 percent) and to aid returning military personnel in their transition to civilian life (69 percent). Sixty-eight percent favor using the arts to beautify blighted areas, create programs for the elderly, and promote pro-social behavior with at-risk youth.

Federal candidates can feel safe voting to increase support for the arts: This study sends a positive message from the public to their elected officials: “We will support you at the polls when you fund the arts.” All else being equal, Americans who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election are most likely to vote in favor (38 percent) than to vote against (19 percent) a candidate who wanted to increase federal spending on the arts to $1 per capita. Millennials are especially likely to vote in favor of this increase—(47 percent vs. 13 percent who oppose it.)"

Stay tuned.  This is going to be a very interesting next six months.

Have a good week.

Don't Quit