Robert Redford Pens Letter Opposing Trump's NEA Defunding Proposal

George Pimentel/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival
Robert Redford

"This is entirely the wrong approach at entirely the wrong time. We need to invite new voices to the table, we need to offer future generations a chance to create and we need to celebrate our cultural heritage," writes Redford.

Robert Redford is joining the various groups, including the Sundance Institute, that are speaking out against President Donald Trump's proposed federal budget cut to the arts. In an open letter, Redford credited the National Endowment for the Arts for the success of his Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival, saying that the funding "must not only survive, but thrive."

"This is entirely the wrong approach at entirely the wrong time," he wrote. "We need to invite new voices to the table, we need to offer future generations a chance to create and we need to celebrate our cultural heritage."

Redford noted that the NEA budget is small compared to other government spending, writing that "more than dollars, the NEA represents a civilization that values critical and creative thought."

He addedL "I’m asking you to please join me in adding your voice to the chorus of concerned citizens by contacting your congressional representative and voicing your opposition to these cuts and in favor of continued support for the role the arts play in enriching our American story."

Trump's $1.15 trillion budget (unveiled to Congress on Thursday) cuts funding for many arts organizations, including public broadcasting, to finance an increase in the military and put a down payment on the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The budget has caused organizations including the Sundance Institute, The Recording Academy and PBS to speak out.

PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger told The Hollywood Reporter that the cost of public broadcasting is $1.35 per citizen, per year, which is "less than a cup of coffee."

Redford credited the NEA for contributing a $25,000 grant in 1981 that launched his Sundance Institute as well as the Sundance Film Festival to support young filmmakers.

"That first promising investment from the NEA, and their belief in my project was vital to launching programs that now support tens of thousands of American artists working in film and theater and new media," he wrote.

Redford concluded the letter with a quote — to which he "couldn't agree more" — from President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 when the NEA was founded: “It is in the neighborhoods of each community that a nation's art is born. In countless American towns there live thousands of obscure and unknown talents. What this bill really does is to bring active support to this great national asset, to make fresher the winds of art in this great land of ours.”

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