But for actor Kal Penn, Trump's rhetoric has been damaging to the arts. Penn was appointed by President Obama to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, an advisory group founded in 1982. He had planned to stay on, but after Trump's handling of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, he and everyone else on the committee resigned.
"The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities was then never relaunched under the Trump administration, just to show you that it really wasn't a priority at all," he says.
Penn says he wants to see the Biden administration give the Endowments an "astronomical increase."
"I think it's important now more than ever to be bold," he says, noting that the arts benefit education, innovation, mental and emotional health. Plus, he says, it's a good investment.
"When you say, okay, well, why did you spend all this money to save this theater—yes, you're saving the theater, and maybe you're saving the 500 jobs that the theater provides for the local community, but you're also then saving the restaurants that people go to the night of the show," he says. "You're saving the hotels that the visiting artists stay at. You're saving, you know, the parking facility. And it may sound like very little, but when you start to multiply that by the numbers of businesses like this that exist around the country, you can see why investing in the arts really makes economic sense."
Earlier this year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts released a report that said the arts contributed 4.5 percent to the country's GDP in 2017. That's more than agriculture and transportation. Arts advocate Charles Segars, head of the Ovation TV network, says it's time for the arts to be taken just as seriously by the White House, by creating a cabinet level Secretary of Arts and Culture.