NEA: NYC Shakespearean Assassination of Trump Funded by Taxpayers

Posted by Tina

I guess we had to know this might happen:

After learning that an actor dressed to look just like his father gets brutally murdered on stage in a production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Donald Trump, Jr. asked, “I wonder how much of this ‘art’ is funded by taxpayers?”

Well, thanks to some digging by Adam Andrzejewski, founder of the federal watchdog OpenTheBooks.com, we now know the answer:

Data at OpenTheBooks.com shows that over $4.1 million in federal, state and city grants funded the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF) – the parent company to Public Theater and its production, Shakespeare in the Park – over the past three years. The total amount since 2009? Nearly $30 million.

The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) sought to ensure the Trumps that it had not funded this performance, but failed to disclose grants totaling $630,000 to NYSF over the last eight years. Such “art” couldn’t be made possible without those funds.

Question…the FBI paid a visit to Kathy Griffin didn’t they? This play is more organized and practiced…why no visit? Maybe because they haven’t said they wanted to burn down the WH. But what does this play say? what does it inspire…what is the intent of it’s creators? Probably nothing more than high fives and guffaws from bar and party attendees .

City taxes accounted for the bulk of funding. These “charitable enterprises” make it on shoe-string budgets, right? Think again:

According to IRS990 disclosures, NYSF paid-out nearly $20 million in compensation, with $912,646 going to just three highly-compensated employees. Top pay went to Oskar Eustis, the theater’s artistic director and director of this summer’s Julius Caesar. Eustis earned $381,993. Patrick Willingham, the theater’s executive director, received the second-highest amount: $327,088.

Starving artists my Aunt Fanny! The nation (NY and LA) is chock full of wealthy people who can well afford to fund such things.

Related: George Will at National Review, “What’s the ‘Public Purpose’ of the National Endowment for the Arts?”

David Marcus, artistic director of a Brooklyn-based theater project and senior contributor to The Federalist, says the NEA produces “perverse market incentives” that explain why many arts institutions “are failing badly at reaching new audiences, and losing ground”: Many theater companies, even the country’s most “successful,” get barely 50 percent of their revenue from ticket sales. Much of the rest comes from tax-deductible donations and direct government grants.

This means that the real way to succeed as an arts organization is not to create a product that attracts new audiences, but to create a product that pleases those who dole out the free cash. The industry received more free money than it did a decade ago, and has fewer attendees. Furthermore, the NEA’s effects are regressive, funding programs that are, as Paul Ryan’s House Budget Committee said, “generally enjoyed by people of higher income levels, making them a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier.”

A Shakespeare in the park production that features the assassination of Donald Trump titillates the wealthy left and panders to the beastly senses of the masses…a lose/lose for taxpayers.

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19 Responses to NEA: NYC Shakespearean Assassination of Trump Funded by Taxpayers

  1. J. Soden says:

    Delta Airlines and Bank of America withdrew their sponsorship after this version of Julius Caesar was reported. American Express (at this writing) is still a sponsor.

    Not at all surprising the NEA is $upporting this kind of production. After all, they supported that crucifix in a jar filled with urine several years ago. Hopefully, the NEA, along with PBS and Planned Harvesthood are on the list of those to be defunded of taxpayer $$ by Clowngress and TheDonald.

  2. Chris says:

    One of the risks of publicly funding art is that sometimes, bad art will be publicly funded. I, personally, am willing to live with that as I think it’s outweighed by the reward. And the government picking and choosing which art gets funded based on politically offensive content brings up its own set of risks.

    That said, casting Trump as Caesar is incoherent. Caeser was a publicly popular figure who was murdered by former allies in the Senate. Trump has a 60% disapproval rating and his allies in congress still support him. It seems like the producers of this play stopped at “Trump bad, killing Trump funny” and didn’t think about whether or not this was a fitting allegory. Oddly enough, this play might have had a more coherent message had it cast Obama as Caesar during his presidency.

    • Joe says:

      “I, personally, am willing to live with that as I think it’s outweighed by the reward. ”

      Then why don’t you support “art” with YOUR money??? Why do you force people who may not be able to afford to pay for this or who are offended by this this to pay for it through the theft of taxation? Typical liberal, always for things by forcing others to pay.

      And considering your beloved gooberment is 20 trillion in debt and has hundreds of trillions of unfunded liabilities your beloved gooberment really can’t afford it.

      • Chris says:

        Well, my answer to that is simple, Joe: taxation isn’t theft.

        • Joe says:

          If I forced you to give me your money is that theft?

          And you didn’t answer the question. Why don’t you support “art” with YOUR money and instead why are you for forcing people who may not be able to afford to pay for this or who are offended by this this to pay for it through government coercion? Or are you going to tell me taxation is not coercion?

          And are you going to tell me a gooberment that is over 20 trillion in debt with hundreds of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities can afford to be funding plays simulating the assassination of Trump or anyone else?

          • Post Scripts says:

            Joe, you made me think about what taxes were originally for and that was basically to maintain roads and bridges for commerce and to maintain a professional military to protect our sovereignty. That’s pretty much it or about 80% of it. Taxes have been sneaking into our lives ever since. Look at how we’ve expanded what taxes ought to pay for! Pretty incredible isn’t it? I wonder when the temporary “income tax” will be over? Cause that was supposed to pay off WWI debt!

          • Joe says:

            Mr. Jack, for all they take it is not nearly enough to cover what they spend. On a per capita basis the federal gooberment debt is over three times that of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico is bankrupt.

          • Post Scripts says:

            And to think the only thing representing value is our IOU written on paper currency….paper….when the bubble bursts what’s that worth?

          • Joe says:

            Mr. Jack,

            It appears the gooberments of the world may have reached a point of no return if what this man is saying is true:

            Simon Mikhailovich of Tocqueville Bullion Reserve reminds us of those numbers with a sobering tweet:

            A bit of math. With the global debt / GDP ratio at 320% and the cost of average debt service at 2%, it takes 6.4% growth per annum just to service the debt. Not happening.

            https://www.sovereignman.com/trends/tim-price-the-uk-today-feels-like-a-very-strange-and-disturbing-place-21993/

    • Joe says:

      And when Trump, Sessions or some other politician decides to spend money on something you loathe, you will have had it coming…

      If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else’s expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.

      Economist Thomas Sowell

      • Chris says:

        And when Trump, Sessions or some other politician decides to spend money on something you loathe, you will have had it coming…

        Are you new to the world? First, Trump has already been spending taxpayer money on things I loathe. Second, someone is always having taxpayer money spent on something they loathe. That has always been the case, and always will be. You can’t seriously not know this.

        • Joe says:

          Go tell it to Thomas Sowell.

          And just wait until Trump spends boat loads of money on the wall…I can hear your howling already…

          • Chris says:

            Yes, I will vocally oppose the wall. But you’re not following the argument, Joe. I never said it’s wrong to criticize anything the government does with taxpayer money. I said taxation isn’t theft. I will argue that using my tax dollars to fund a pointless border wall that won’t work is stupid and a waste of money, but I won’t argue that it is theft, and I won’t say anything like this:

            “Why do you force people who may not be able to afford to pay for this or who are offended by this this to pay for it through the theft of taxation?”

            Having one’s tax money spent on things one is offended by is part of being a taxpayer. That’s not an argument against taxation.

    • Peggy says:

      Chris, I respectfully completely disagree. Gov’t funding for the arts should not exist at all or at the most for three years, which is what the gov’t allocates to private businesses to write off operating at a loss before making a profit.

      Private donations from individuals, their various unions and businesses that choose to donate would be sufficient based on the salaries of top entertainers and businesses looking for tax write-offs. Forcing farmers in the Midwest to pay for a play in NY they will never be able to travel to see really is “theft.” I think they’d prefer to support their local high school play or music program that they can go to see.

      Think of Carnegie and Rockefeller and the arts they contributed to develop that is still being enjoyed by millions today. The Big Bird and other Sesame Street Characters have made millions from movies, toys and product sales. Their profits should be going back into supporting their public standing operations reducing or completely eliminating the need for more public funds.

  3. Tina says:

    “I think it’s outweighed by the reward.”

    Apparently not unless you consider the reward another platform for leftist political expression.

    I agree with David Marcus who said it creates “perverse market incentives”:

    “…the real way to succeed as an arts organization is not to create a product that attracts new audiences, but to create a product that pleases those who dole out the free cash. The industry received more free money than it did a decade ago, and has fewer attendees.” (emphasis mine)

    Who doles out the cash? Democrats are the ones who try to curry favor and votes from artists through advocacy of government funding of the arts so it is Democrats the artists attempt to please.

    “Caeser was a publicly popular figure who was murdered by former allies in the Senate.”

    Your knowledge about the play is as bad as mine. Wikipedia provides a synopsis which begins:

    The play opens with the commoners of Rome celebrating Caesar’s triumphant return from defeating Pompey’s sons at the battle of Munda. Two tribunes, Flavius and Marrullus, discover the commoners celebrating, insult them for their change in loyalty from Pompey to Caesar, and break up the crowd. There are some jokes made by the commoners, who insult them back. They also plan on removing all decorations from Caesar’s statues and ending any other festivities. In the next scene, during Caesar’s parade on the feast of Lupercal, a soothsayer warns Caesar, “Beware the ides of March.” This warning he disregards. The action then turns to the discussion between Brutus and Cassius. In this conversation, Cassius attempts to influence Brutus’s opinions into believing Caesar should be killed, preparing to have Brutus join his conspiracy to kill Caesar. They then hear from Casca that Mark Antony has offered Caesar the crown of Rome three times and that each time Caesar refused it, fainting after the last refusal. Later, in act two, Brutus joins the conspiracy, although after much moral debate, eventually deciding that Caesar, although his friend and never having done anything against the people of Rome, should be killed to prevent him from doing anything against the people of Rome if he were ever to be crowned. He compares Caesar to “A serpents egg/ which hatch’d, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,/ and kill him in the shell.” He then decides to join Cassius in killing Caesar. (emphasis mine

    A fairly perfect description of the attitude of the left today toward Trump and the hatred they invoke.

    Trump is as unpopular today as Bill Clinton was at the same time in his presidency. His unpopularity is not unusual or extraordinary. the divide in the country has been contentious for some time…just not so violent and personally hateful.

    It should be noted that in the play Mark Antony makes an eloquent appeal that begins in the famous phrase, “”Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!” in which Brutus, as he attempts to justify himself by praising Ceaser, “rouses the mob to drive the conspirators from Rome.”

    I don’t think the anti-Trump stance and activism is winning your side any praise or support except from those who will always hate Trump, conservatives, and the GOP. I think you look like dangerous fools who hate America and work against the people for your own tyrannical needs.

    When you consider we are nearly $20 trillion in debt and when you consider that the federal government was intended to have “limited powers” funding for this and many other things would be better left to the states and the people, as our founders envisioned.

    We don’t advocate cut funding for the arts or better yet ending the unnecessary department because we don’t appreciate art…many of us are artists ourselves. We advocate as a matter of fiscal responsibility and restraint for the good of the nation as a whole and future generations in particular!

  4. Tina says:

    The founders had quite a bit to say about taxing the people:

    Thomas Jefferson: The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

    To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

    Alexander Hamilton: If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare… The powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.

    John Adams: The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.

    James Madison: As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.

    If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.

    It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.

    There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

    George Washington: No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

    Benjamin Franklin: I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

    The most compelling idea is that the money we earn IS OUR PROPERTY. Our government has ceased to be “limited” in it’s desires to separate us from our property and that is not right. That we have let them is on us but that does not mean we have been wise, only foolish. The people are becoming weaker and less capable. How stupid is that! We became the most prosperous nation in the world with a thriving middle class because of freedom and those rights to property which we are guaranteed in the Constitution. Onerous taxation whittles away at both the property and the rights of individuals!

    The American left has deserted the republic, adopting the ideas of old white men such as Lenin, Marx, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler, to join the communities of European socialists.

  5. Peggy says:

    Here’s a good comparison. The whole article is worth reading.

    “Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Comparison:
    At a glance, Caesar and Trump have laughably little in common. The former was a vaunted general and public servant, not a casino owner and reality TV star. What creates the nuanced tension in the play is that Caesar really had done wonderful things for his country. In addition, Caesar was not elected emperor, as Trump was elected president.

    Furthermore, in history and in Shakespeare’s version of it, the senators who assassinate Caesar are not elected, but appointed officials. So any notion that Brutus and Cassius were defending the will of the people or democratic values by plunging knives into their rival is patently absurd.

    In the Public’s version, we see the pink-hatted resistance and cheers over the killing of Trump—and let’s be clear, it is Trump—by black senators. This racial divide is clearly nowhere in Shakespeare’s work, but an invention of director Oskar Eustis. Why the divide? Brutus and his conspirators were anything but an oppressed minority. They were literally the most privileged of Roman citizens.

    Given that the analogy between Trump and Caesar makes absolutely no sense on its face, and that the circumstances of a fairly elected president being killed bears no resemblance to the killing of Julius Caesar, why was this choice made? Defenders of the production have suggested that since the assassins wind up losing in the end, the point of the production is that we shouldn’t assassinate Trump.

    Is this a point that requires a multi-million-dollar theater production? Isn’t it obvious to everyone that assassinating any fairly elected president is immoral and a threat to democracy? Is the Public Theater trying to send some message to those who oppose President Trump about how they should or shouldn’t go about doing so? If so, why?

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/06/13/assassinating-president-trump-julius-caesar-bad-politics-not-good-art/

    • Chris says:

      That’s a good analysis, Peggy, and I agree with the overall point that the Trump/Caesar analogy just doesn’t make sense. I also think the play is clearly not advocating the assassination of Trump, but whatever point it is making is probably incoherent. I’d have to see the play to be sure, but I just don’t see how they could make this concept work.

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