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Miller Theatre depends on funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to hire performers.

Budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities proposed by President Donald Trump would slash tens of thousands of dollars made available for research and cultural programming at Columbia.

In 2014, Columbia faculty members were awarded over $800,000 in research grants. Faculty research funded by NEH grants included History Professor Pamela Smith’s project, “Craft Techniques and Knowledge Systems in a 16th-Century Artist’s Manuscript,” for which she received a grant of $320,000 last July.

Since 1999, Columbia has received NEA grants to fund programs on campus at venues such as Miller Theatre and Wallach Art Gallery. In fiscal year 2017, Columbia received a grant of $30,000 from the NEA to support the Conversations Initiative at Miller Theatre.

According to Melissa Smey, the executive director of Miller Theatre, NEA grants are critical to programming at the theater. Over the past five years, such grants have funded performances by approximately 800 musicians for over 15,000 audience members—20 percent of which are typically students.

Smey informed Spectator via email that even with the generous support of individual donors, Miller Theatre still relies on federal funding to support programming.

“NEA grants are not only crucial from a fiscal perspective, the imprimatur of the agency is invaluable for Miller Theatre,” Smey said. “It signals to the world that the work we do here is of national significance.”

blanca.andrei@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

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