After Mass Resignation From Arts Committee, Trump Announces He Planned to Dissolve It Anyway

"While the Committee has done good work in the past, in its current form it simply is not a responsible way to spend American tax dollars."

U.S. President Donald J. Trump makes a statement on the violence in Charlottesville, VA at The White House in Washington, DC, August 14, 2017. Credit: Chris Kleponis / Polaris

This morning, the members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities quit in spectacular fashion, with an open letter that, in essence, called on Trump to resign in the wake of his toxic Tuesday night comments on Charlottesville.

The move echoed the mass resignation of CEOs from Trump’s Manufacturing and Strategy and Policy Forums in protest earlier in the week—after which the president claimed that he was dissolving these advisory panels altogether anyway.

The same pattern continued today: Following widespread press coverage of the open letter, the White House put out a statement in the afternoon saying that the president had decided not to renew support for the Presidential Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, calling it a waste of money.

The same statement lauds the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for their “tremendous work.” Trump had proposed zeroing out the budgets of both agencies earlier this year.

The Committee on the Arts and the Humanities was formed by Republican Ronald Reagan in 1982 to advise the White House on cultural matters. Its honorary chairman, currently, is First Lady Melania Trump.

The 16 “private members” who quit today had been Obama-era holdovers, who had agreed to carry on the Committee’s work until the new president found a new slate of arts advocates to occupy their posts.

Here is the entire White House announcement (as cited by CBS news):

“Earlier this month it was decided that President Trump will not renew the Executive Order for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), which expires later this year. While the Committee has done good work in the past, in its current form it simply is not a responsible way to spend American tax dollars. The PCAH merely redirects funding from the federal cultural agencies (NEA/NEH/IMLS) that answer directly to the President, Congress, and taxpayers. These cultural agencies do tremendous work and they will continue to engage in these important projects.”

New York Times culture writer Sopan Deb first posted the announcement on Twitter, triggering a tidal wave of mockery of the president, including from actor and former Committee member Kal Penn, who had originally posted the open letter:

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