'The call to abolish the N.E.A. is the beginning of a new assault on artistic activity. Claiming the cuts are purely for cost savings conceals a deeper, more partisan agenda. The last time the N.E.A. was this under fire was during the 1990s, when funding was challenged for artists and institutions that refused to conform to a narrow definition of propriety. Arts and cultural programming challenges, provokes and entertains; it enhances our lives. Eliminating the N.E.A. would in essence eliminate investment by the American government in the curiosity and intelligence of its citizens. As the planet becomes at once smaller and more complex, the public needs a vital arts scene, one that will inspire us to understand who we are and how we got here — and one that will help us to see other countries, like China, not as enemies in a mercenary trade war but as partners in a complicated world.'