Last Saturday evening, thousands of people attended the free SXSW concert where Garth Brooks performed and gave a speech about the federal funding for the arts. Brooks expressed his alarm at President Donald Trump's proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The South by Southwest (SXSW) music event is a venue for emerging artists to perform. It is also an opportunity for veteran musicians to share their experiences or tips about the music industry. So, last March 19, singer Garth Brooks talked to Billboard about President Donald Trump's plan to remove the federal funding for the arts.
"You can't let those arts go. It's what defines our generation. It's what defines your country," the country singer strongly said. Garth Brooks has written songs before that target rape and domestic abuse. He also wrote "We Shall Be Free", a pro-tolerance music, whose message, he said, is more relevant now than when he first wrote it 25 years ago.
According to the New York Times, this was the first time that a president of the United States is planning to cancel funding for endowments. When Donald Trump announced his proposal to remove funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, many cultural and artistic organizations became worried. Among them is country music icon Garth Brooks, who loudly opposes it.
The combined budget for NEA and NEH is only $300 million, which is not even enough to fund the various schools, organizations, events, and sponsorships for artists in the entire country. Garth Brooks expressed that it was important for artists to rally against the elimination of the funding.
The 55-year-old singer also shed light on this issue during an SXSW conversation with Amazon Music vice president Steve Boom. Garth Brooks signed a deal with Amazon Music to make his albums available for streaming and purchasing online. He continued to emphasize that helping artists and promoting art is everyone's job.