NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Several Democratic New York lawmakers said Sunday that they will fight federal budget cuts targeting the arts.
As WCBS 880's Mike Smeltz reported, President Donald Trump's proposed budget would eliminate funding for organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts – an independent federal agency that promotes Americans' participation in the arts.
Lawmakers said Sunday that the endowment helps grow and maintain the arts community in New York and throughout the country, and that funding must be maintained.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) spoke with other Democratic lawmakers Sunday at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, 212 W. 83rd St. She said the museum and places like it, where kids can learn about other cultures while playing, would not exist without federal money.
As 1010 WINS' Samantha Liebman reported, Gillibrand said Trump does not seem to understand the importance of arts funding economically and educationally.
"Thousands of jobs; hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue; of investment, and for the children that benefit so much through arts education; through learning the humanities; our history; our culture," Gillibrand said. "It strengthens learning."
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called the proposed cuts "an attack on our country's cultural infrastructure."
He said if Trump's budget goes through, Americans would be starved of access to American culture. He said museums in New York backed by billionaire benefactors would not be endangered, but museums elsewhere could suffer or close.
"We don't want a society in which access to the arts is limited to certain areas," he said.
Andrew Ackerman, the head of the Children's Museum, noted that President Trump himself was an early investor.
"His investment has paid off – maybe one of the better investments he ever made," he said.
Local lawmakers also emphasized what they said was a need for continued arts funding.
"President Trump talks a lot about making America great again," said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-26th). "But nothing has ever been made great again by crushing its soul, destroying its heart, and taking everything about what it means away."
City Comptroller Scott Stringer said at the news conference that a recent report by his office found that 419 New York City cultural nonprofits received funding from the NEA in 2016 – up from 272 in 2000. The grants have totaled $233 million all around the boroughs, Stringer said.
Last year, the NEA handed out $47 million to states to help local arts programs.
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