Much Ado About Trump: A Former Theatre Kid Speaks Out On The Budget Cuts

How is Donald Trump making America great again this time? On March 15, Trump released a plan outlining a budget proposal which would eliminate funds for students, the poor, seniors, and the arts. As a former middle and high school theater kid, I am stunned and outraged that Trump thinks eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts is beneficial to society.

Theater for me and many other students across the United States has allowed us to not only explore the arts, but has allowed us to grow as people and learn about other cultures.

As a costume designer, I learned about periods and classism through how the costumes had to be designed. For example, in the production of Ragtime, which takes place at the turn of the twentieth century, different style outfits had to be made whether the characters were the immensely wealthy, part of the African American community, or Eastern European immigrants. Another example would be my high school’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, set in 1920s (image of me fixing a zipper issue below). The outfits that girls wore in the play illustrated a transition between what could be considered traditional dress for females and modernity, with one lead female character, Beatrice, wearing pants for part of the show.

I also learned lessons from my extracurriculars as a costume designer that are skills most people need to know professionally. In order to prepare for each show, I had to manage my school vs .theater time distribution wisely. In order to help design a show, I had to be creative. To make sure costume changes went quickly and smoothly, I had to manage a team. People in other positions learn important skills as well. Stage managers need to organize a group of people and be problem solvers, actors need to empathize with their character, light and sound operators need to utilize technology and be prepared for sudden changes, and the list goes on.

Theater, like all forms of arts, allows students to express themselves and create a thing of substance in a positive way. When Trump was sworn in, he said he would “make America safe again.” By cutting funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, there could be harmful effects to society, as students might turn to negative outlets to express themselves instead. The arts can truly help mend a group. For example, in New Orleans, Big Chief Allison “Tootie” Montana, head of the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indian gang, led an initiative to create Mardi Gras costumes instead of fighting in the 1960s. Today, the main concern of violence comes from actions that police perpetrate to the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indian gang and similar groups.

I implore Donald Trump to not cut the National Endowment for the Arts, because it will harm the growth of students across the United States.

 

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/arts/nea-neh-endowments-trump.html?_r=0

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/disrupting-the-cycle-of-urban-violence-with-arts-and-culture/433242/

Photo:

Photo in is author's own, taken by Len Brown

Photo of theater taken by Joe Wolf

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joebehr/15043377704/in/photolist-oVkf67-7W...