The Arts and Me

Today’s post is going to be short, because it’s a simple thing.

This week, President Trump gave his 2019 Budget Proposal to Congress. This proposal included the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. I can only speak for myself, but I cannot stand the idea that our federal government considers the Arts so unimportant that it can be eliminated from our federal budget. So I decided to do the only thing I could: I wrote to my representatives.

I have heard that if you want your representatives to really consider your words, it is better to craft your own letter, rather than use a form letter that will look the same as thousands of others. They are more likely to consider the words of a unique letter than one that is the same as the other hundreds of letters they receive.

I encourage you, if you feel the same way, to go to and find out who your representatives are. My representatives are Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Adriano Espaillat. The following message went to each of them:


My name is Emily Whitman. I am a recent resident of New York City, having moved here from Dallas, TX about a year ago. I am writing today in response to President Trump’s proposal for the 2019 budget, which includes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts.

I moved to New York to pursue a career in acting, and while I was still living in Dallas, I taught Theatre Arts to high school students at Thomas Jefferson High School. So you can see that the Arts are a very important aspect of my life. As a teacher, I used resources funded by the NEA to teach my students about Shakespeare, Theatre History, and Acting. The students I taught came from low-income households, and many were considered “at-risk,” though many of them resented that moniker. Through their study of Theatre, I watched shy, struggling students grow into confident, successful students. They were able to see possibilities for their life beyond minimum wage jobs; they could envision college, and life beyond high school. The study of the Arts is an integral part of any student’s education, and the application of the Arts is an integral part of any adult’s life. The NEA’s role is to ensure that access to the Arts is available for every American. According to the NEA website, NEA funding “contributes to our economy, with the arts and culture sector accounting for $729.6 billion or 4.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).” To eliminate funding to the NEA is to eliminate a pillar of American culture.

In his State of the Union address, President Trump said that “Americans fill the world with art and music.My question is this: How can we continue to fill the world with art and music, if our federal funding is extinguished? I am asking you to please vote against the elimination of the NEA. For the sake of our country’s future, we have to keep the Arts alive.

Thank you for representing New York and its people, and for taking my words into consideration.


Emily Whitman