Fund the Arts! Stories Are Our Most Valuable Exports

Cut funding to the NEA and PBS? It would be incredibly costly to cut cultural spending.

The arts reflect what a country is, says Jane Rosenthal — so what kind of country is the US if it cuts funding to its arts communities? The NEA and PBS are two organizations on the chopping block under the Trump administration's proposed budget. Rosenthal — a film producer and co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival — reminds us of how crucial story telling is for individuals and nations. The inaugural Tribeca Film Festival opened in 2002, just after the 9/11 terror attacks. The Tribeca Film Festival's purpose was to bring people back to the downtown neighborhood, to create a new memory for the city that wasn't based in fear. They invited Nelson Mandela to speak, and he recalled that the one thing he looked forward to when he was imprisoned on Robben Island was movie night. It created a community between the prisoners and their guards, and provided common ground for their humanity. Beyond the individual, art is also a valuable export from one nation to another, keeping lines of communication and curiosity open between cultures.

Humanity Relies on Two Kinds of Science — But Only One Gets the Big Bucks

For our future's sake, let's demand government funding for 'little science', says Hertz fellow Avideh Zakhor.

Avideh Zakhor is a Hertz Foundation Fellow and recipient of the prestigious Hertz Foundation Grant for graduate study in the applications of the physical, biological and engineering sciences. Here, she illuminates the difference between 'big science', which draws multiple billions in funding, versus 'little science', which are the seed ideas for our future technology — and the ones that are suffering from science funding cuts. Zakhor insists that Capitol Hill, not Silicon Valley or venture capitalists, must fund little science as the government is in a better position to foster long-term innovation. With the support of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, she pursued a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT.

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