Batsheva's U.S. performances are often met with protests, like this one outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Photo Courtesy Brian Schaefer.
The United States has never had a strong tradition of government support for the arts. But we take what we can get and, since its founding in 1965, American artists have gratefully accepted whatever the National Endowment for the Arts is willing and able to give. Though the NEA has at times been aggressively politicized, for the most part, we have maintained a delicate separation of art and state.
President Obama awarding Bill T. Jones the National Medal of Arts. Photo by Pete Souza via Obama White House Archives
Every year since 1985, the President of the United States has recognized our country's greatest artists with the National Medal of Arts. Many dancers and choreographers—from Martha Graham to Tommy Tune to Edward Villella—have received the award.
But President Trump has yet to award any artists (the deadline for the 2016 medals was last February, and historically the ceremony has been held later the same year). Though the White Housesays it will "likely" issue awards later in 2018, this is the longest gap between ceremonies since the founding of the award—and it speaks to the current administration's general disinterest in the arts.
Since taking office a year and a half ago, President Trump has held no dance performances at the White House, and aside from the military band, no performances whatsoever. He has frequently disparaged artists, from Meryl Streep to the cast of Hamilton. The fate of the National Endowment for the Arts has also come into question.If the President does indeed continue with the award, we wonder how his attitude toward artists will affect who is chosen—and whether artists will even accept the honor. (Carmen de Lavallade and several other Kennedy Center honorees skipped the White House reception last year to boycott the President.)
A grant from the NEA helped Miami City Ballet present its centennial celebration of Jerome Robbins. Photo by Kyle Froman, Courtesy MCB
The fate of the National Endowment for the Arts has had us on tenterhooks (and off...and on again) since the election of Donald Trump. (Actually, we've been on and off tenterhooks about it more or less since it was founded.)
Regardless of where you get your news, you've probably heard about the GOP's controversial Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Many of the conversations surrounding the bill have been centered around what it could mean for individual taxpayers.
But you may not have heard much about what the bill means for nonprofits, the institutions that make up the vast majority of the dance world—from cultural giants like New York City Ballet to dance service organizations like The Actors Fund.