Possible federal cuts to music, arts raises flags in Music City

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Possible cuts in federal arts and music funding is causing concern for some in Music City.

As the New York Times has reported, some popular federal programs could be on the chopping block in next year’s budget. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is reportedly on the list of programs that could be cut.

The NEA distributes and stimulates funding for the arts across the country. That includes funding for music education.

Metro Nashville Public Schools was awarded a $100,000 NEA grant last year to provide enhanced development for all 200 music teachers in the district.

Dave Pomeroy, President of the Nashville Musicians Association, says access to music education in schools is critical to the future of the music industry.

“Some of the greatest artists of all time have come out of very economically challenged backgrounds,” said Pomeroy. “We cannot afford, as a country, as a culture, as a people, to deny that and make that only something for the rich.”

“I would hope that we speak for all the creative people in Nashville when we say we need arts in the schools. And to defund the NEA would be a crushing, if not a death blow to that concept,” Pomeroy added.

The Nashville Symphony has also benefited from the NEA over the years.

President and CEO Alan D. Valentine said this year the Symphony is getting $15,000 in direct NEA funding to commission and record new music.

(Photo: WKRN)

“Which is our unique way of contributing to the brand that is Music City in the orchestral genre,” Valentine said. So in terms of classical music, we’re really doing very much what happens on Music Row every day.”

Valentine told News 2 funding for the arts and music should not be a partisan issue.

“Great countries are not the ones that just have incredible military might, strip malls and McDonald’s. Great countries have fantastic arts and culture.”

The NEA’s annual budget is around $148 million – or about 0.003 percent of the federal budget – meaning it costs about 46 cents per American to run the program each year.

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