Students painting the "Art Matters" mural on 8th avenue in Durango.
The Fort Lewis College Environmental Center in conjunction with Our 1st 100 Days took a stand for the arts and humanities.
In light of recent federal budget proposals that aim to remove funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, a mural was painted on the Everyday Gas Station at the corner of Eighth Street and College Drive that aims to reflect on why art matters.
Art major Hayley Kirkman, and member of Fort Lewis College’s Environmental Center spearheaded the project.
“The mural is concerning the defunding of arts and humanities, so we wanted to put out a positive message about that and let people know it's important,” Kirkman said.
On April 15 the two organizations hosted a launch party for the mural followed by a group bike ride out to Ska Brewing Company in support of the arts. At the dedication, various speakers stood up to defend the arts, according to Rachel Landis, Environmental Center Coordinator and Committee member of Our 1st 100 Days.
Over seven different Durango artists worked to create the mural, including Kirkman.
Kirkman utilized skills learned at FLC to help bring the mural project to life, she said. She’s studied graphic design, advertising, psychology, and color theory.
“I’ve been an artist my whole life, and it’s something I can’t not do,” Kirkman said. “It’s personal.”
Atop the mural reads: “Art Matters.” In the center of the mural is a quote from environmental activist and author Terry Tempest Williams: “Finding beauty in the broken world is creating beauty in the world we find,” it reads.
The Independent has looked further into what the effects of eliminating the cultural agencies would be, as proposed by President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget plan.
According to the recent budget plan, the Trump administration’s FY2018 budget proposal calls for eliminating four cultural agencies and their collective $971 million budget.
The proposed budget eliminates all $148 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and all $148 million for the Endowment of the Humanities, as well as eliminating the $445 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports public television and radio, including PBS and NPR.
On the Colorado state level, congressman Doug Lamborn has introduced legislation to ensure the de-funding of the three aforementioned organizations.
“It’s something he’s introduced several times during his career as a congressman, and others have supported it,” Chris Aaland, development director for KSUT said. “It’s been rejected with bipartisan support.
Aaland, an opponent of the proposed legislation, is concerned there may be more support for this legislation because all three branches - Senate, White House, and Supreme Court - are controlled by one party.
Should it pass it would be a difficult budgetary problem for most public and community stations, Aaland said.
According to Aaland, public media, the arts and education all go hand in hand, regarding why the cuts to the NEH, NEA, and CPB are often roped into the same discussion.
If one of these agencies is cut, the other two are also advertently diminished financially, according to the national budget plan.
“Community and public radio stations provide fairly stable, concise perspective on the world and what’s going on, without any terrible ulterior motives. It also contributes very highly to the local feel of the geographic area that it serves,” Bob Griffith, a 39 year veteran of the commercial radio industry said. “One of the reasons is the content and the programming has become highly desirable,.”
According to Aaland, people in public and community radio are addressing ways that they can get through the potential funding cut, but he thinks now there’s much more interest in it.
“Personally, I see it as a bit of an assault on the things I hold dearest and my way of life,” Aaland said. “But some folks on the other side of the aisle acknowledge these programs as a threat to their way of life. Any time there’s discussion on it, I know it’s elevated our listeners importance of the product of public radio.”
Neither southwestern Colorado congressmen Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton, nor Michael Bennet were available for comment on either the state or federal budget proposals.