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Trump's proposed budget effects on local arts funding

A woman takes in the artwork of French sculptor Auguste Rodin at the Portland Art Museum. (KATU Photo)

One of the big targets for cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget is federal funding supporting the arts.

Federal funds used to support exhibits at the Portland Art Museum and by other groups in Oregon generally amount to a small portion of their total budget.

But the guarantee of that federal money sometimes makes a huge difference to specific programs.

Portland Art Museum managed to get an exhibit of Rodin sculptures without extra insurance beyond its $200 million coverage. But other, more valuable, exhibits have to have more insurance.

Money from the National Endowment for the Arts pays for that added coverage for those special traveling exhibits.

“And sometimes the works that we’re borrowing, their value exceeds that, and so for us to be able to show globally important works of art, we have to have help with the insurance, and the NEA does this for us and for museums around the country,” said J.S. May, chief advancement officer at the Portland Art Museum.

But some are glad the president’s targeting arts funding. The Portland-based Cascade Policy Institute believes the federal government has no business funding some of those programs.

“I’m sure Congress will restore most or all of that funding. It’s just a starting point,” said John Charles Jr., with the institute. “But for a president to say it’s time to zero out some programs and reduce many other programs, that’s actually necessary, I believe.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting uses federal arts funds for some national programming.

“Well, we had been hearing for several months that this was a possibility,” said OPB’s Morgan Holm.

That money also supports equipment maintenance that sends public television and radio across Oregon to some of the most remote parts of the state.

It saw the same proposal each year during George W. Bush’s presidency.

“But in every case Congress continued to fund that, so we’ve certainly been at this point before, where the proposal has been on the table. But from here it goes to Congress for them to make the ultimate decision,” said Holm.

And there’s still a lot of time for that. The new fiscal year doesn’t start until October.

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