Freedom of expression is not under threat. No one is stopping you from putting brush to paint to paper, or hitting keystrokes.
“The idea that civil society is going to step in and take up all these shortfalls is far-fetched,” said Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of PEN, an organization of writers and editors that focuses on free expression.
That's the idea. No more running to your government. The responsibility falls on us. No more of this "Can't somebody else do it!"
Real art, real culture are going to HAVE to go back to their roots; the people.
Real artists have day jobs.
Volunteering is the only way to actually improve your community.
And for some perspective, if you factor that I have read 2 books a day over the span of 20 years the amount comes to over 14,000, ranging from every topic, field, and study (yes from libraries. I'll touch on that), of those books I have never read the following Pulitzer Prize winners (The NEH has supported the creation of 16 Pulitzer Prize-winning books and Ken Burns’s iconic documentary The Civil War):
Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787
Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time (Little, Brown, 1968-75).
R.W.B. Lewis, Edith Wharton: A Biography
The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics (Oxford University Press, 1978).
Women at Work: The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826-1860
Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1923-1945 (Oxford University Press, 1979).
Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, The Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford University Press, 1992).
Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life (Oxford University Press, 1994). (Though I have read biographies of her)
I doubt many of you have even read any of those listed, and if you really think about it it isn't a lot to show over fifty years even though I stopped at 94.
The N.E.A. helped get the fledgling Sundance Film Festival started (Founded by Robert Redford, an "actor" that I don't care for. He plays the same smug "I know better than you" character in everything he's ever done). Sundance is just another big corporation like everything else, making a buck off of the filmmaker. As the site says, 6 people can’t watch 10,000 films. The $500,000 “prize” is a crap shoot, and I’m sure they make more than they award. I wouldn't be surprised if Redford ends up in front of a committee in DC. Sundance Film Festival is and has been responsible for stealing millions of dollars for over 25 years from filmmakers from across the world for 'submission fees'.
Of the list of Sundance winners I liked one movie (a movie I saw as a child. The Brave Little Toaster. I watched it as an adult recently and I loathed it). In Canada we have CBC and Bravo who play independent movies and critically acclaimed movies late at night, often this was my Sundance channel before having the Sundance Channel. I've seen a plethora of these films and loved some, disliked others, wouldn't have paid for most of them, and I don't feel they've contributed to the arts at all (unless it's to show how NOT to make a movie)
Sesame Street MADE 121 million in profit last year. Now, of course, Big Bird and the gang have flown the coop to HBO in their own controversial maneuver—leaving the arts and humanities without as compelling a mascot for votes to rally behind as Trump and the G.O.P. stand over the federal budget, axes ready.
Seems like Big Bird had the right idea, though. And even though HBO will be making the show for it's paid network....it will be "donating" those shows to PBS six months after the original airing. That actually CUTS PBS's cost of procuring the show.
With regard to Libraries, I do love and support libraries. However, more than anything I have found over the years that while I do get value from it personally, I feel they are underutilized or spread out in ways that they don't need to be. If you want the library to stay relevant, you have to make it a better resource than Google, and explain why.
I think it would be a move in the right direction to start the inclusion of book sales and coffee houses IN libraries. Perhaps a "Chapters" nook near the checkout. Why? Well, demand for certain books is going to be higher than others (such as "Fast Reads" with a checkout time of three days or so), and some patrons might be willing to shell out the money for the book they want, or after reading a book decide they want a copy for their own or to buy someone else. THAT money can be funneled BACK into the library itself with lease fees and other incentives. And everyone likes to have some kind of beverage while they read (have the "common" book area and the "antique" book area separate, of course). Other such incentives could be a tiered membership: pay a nominal yearly fee and never have to pay late fees. Or if you donate over a certain amount, you get "preferred" treatment, like bumped up a waiting list for a book. That might seem abhorrent to some of you, and that's fine. I liken it to the online games I play for free....the paying members totally dominate me and sometimes it seems really unfair, but then I remember that I'm only sacrificing my time for this, and not my wallet, and then I feel fine.
Government funding should not be seen as an absolute; life happens. A good organization should always be looking out for other sources of income in case they run out in one area, or want to actually grow in other areas.
Think of it as creating "Book Privilege", where a system is made to perpetually benefit books.
But that's just me.