Communities fear art funding cuts

Art that was funded by the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona in Downtown Tucson, Arizona. This piece of art can be found on the building that is Hi-Fi Kitchen and Cocktails located on Congress St. (Photo by: Kylie Warren/ Arizona Sonora News Service)

Small, rural communities like Bisbee don’t have to worry about cuts to funding for art programs yet, but the fear is lingering.

President Donald Trump wants to cut federal funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal program that gives about $145 million across the country for art programs.

Arizona receives about $1.5 million in federal funds for art initiatives.  The NEA gives Arizona around $800,000, the remaining money comes from the Arts Trust Fund. These funds are distributed through grants, but also through programs and services.

Major cities like Tucson and Phoenix are given larger sums of money, while smaller communities only receive a couple thousand dollars. The Bisbee community fears that if they are already getting the short end of the stick, that federal cuts will have a bigger impact.

“Funding for the arts in rural communities is extremely limited,” said Karen Schumacher, chair of the Bisbee Arts Commission. “A lot of foundations that give money are for health organizations or non-profits, and very little for the arts.”

Bisbee is said to be a community that was saved by the arts after the closing of the Bisbee mines in the 1970’s. Schumacher said that many artists moved to Bisbee because of the low cost of living and the need for art in the community.

Bisbee uses their money granted by the state to fund a kids art festival once a year, galleries, or studio space at low rates for local artists. Public art, like murals, are funded more privately.

Schumacher doesn’t think that the federal funding will have immediate impact, but over time, the city will see the affects, especially if there is no art education.

“Even if people don’t understand the importance of art, it effects more then we often take into consideration,” said Schumacher.

Schumacher said that art funding has already been approved for 2018 at the same amount as 2017.

The Arizona Commission for the Arts awarded $2,354,400 in grants in 2017.

Tucson received about $833,000 which was given toward the non-profit organization Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona, which distributes it through various grants.

Smaller communities believe they will see a decrease in money for art, especially those with populations of about 5,000 people.

“We are all waiting to see what happens,” said Schumacher.

The NEA will continue to accept applications of grants throughout 2018, until Congress enacts the cut.

Kylie Warren is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at

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