Establish a Colorado Endowment for the Arts and Sciences to save our science and culture

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In less than a week since taking office, President Trump has taken numerous steps to decimate America's federal funding support for a host of important scientific and cultural programs.  Of these, the most important is his proposal of a new budget that will, if passed through Congress, severely cut back federal funding for scientific research, and eliminate entirely the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  (A full list of the programs which will be affected, and the roles that these programs play in American society, can be found here: http://time.com/money/4639544/trump-nea-sesame-street-budget-cut/.)

From even a brief glance at the relevant budgetary data, it is clear that only a tiny portion of the existing federal budget goes to these programs, and therefore that the proposed cuts to them will do very little in terms of helping to reduce federal spending.  But these cuts will have devastating consequences for America's universities, museums, and numerous other cultural, educational, and scientific institutions, as well as many thousands of scientists, scholars, artists, musicians, and museum employees, among others, all of whom now face an uncertain future under the proposed policies of the new administration.  This serious situation is made even more pressing by the speed with which said cuts are likely to be enacted – in all probability, within the first 100 days of the Trump presidency – which means that these institutions will have precious little time to seek out other sources of financial support before the new, greatly reduced budget will come into effect.

To be sure, every state will feel the impacts of the reduced federal budget proposed by the Trump administration.  But they will hit Colorado particularly hard, because our state is home to a number of world-class academic, cultural, and scientific research institutions that have made many notable contributions which enrich not only Colorado itself, but also the rest of America and the world at large.  Just to give a few examples, these institutions include the University of Colorado at Boulder, which is home to numerous award-winning scholars, including multiple Nobel Prize winners; the Denver Art Museum, which houses one of the largest and most important art collections to be found between the Mississippi River and the West Coast; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which has for decades been one of the most important contributors to climate change research in the United States.

Our academic, cultural, and scientific research institutions improve the lives of Coloradans, Americans, and the world, and all Coloradans can be justifiably proud of them.  But the majority of these institutions, and many of the dynamic individuals who are employed by them, also rely partially or entirely on financial support from federal funding sources.  Consequently, the budget cuts being proposed by the Trump administration pose a substantial threat to Colorado's ability to continue serving as an important producer of science and culture.  More importantly, many thousands of Coloradans who are employed by these institutions, and who have provided an important service to Colorado through their labors, may soon face serious cutbacks -- or even lose their jobs entirely -- as a result of the huge cuts to federal funding support desired by the Trump administration.  The people who are at risk include both individuals who have developed established reputations as some of the leading lights in their chosen fields, and also young, up-and-coming scientists, artists, writers, etc., whose work represents the cutting edge of their respective professions.  Without adequate financial support, these people will lose their ability to effectively serve their state and their country through their scientific and/or creative work -- and that is why it is essential for the State of Colorado to step into the breach and enact vigorous measures that will help to foster cultural and scientific endeavors in our state.  

To this end, we, the signers of this petition, urgently appeal to Governor Hickenlooper and to the Colorado General Assembly to act now to help protect Colorado’s arts and sciences institutions by establishing a new Colorado Endowment for the Arts and Sciences, which will serve as a permanent source of funding for academic and cultural pursuits in our state.  Ideally, we envision that this endowment would behave much as its federal forerunners did prior to the inauguration of President Trump: it would fund grant proposals made by Colorado-based academic and cultural professionals, but only those that make it through a rigorous review process to ensure that these proposals meet the highest standard of quality.  (In the case of academic research funding, for example, these proposals would undergo peer-review by experts in the relevant field or fields.)  

We fully recognize that the State of Colorado cannot completely make up for the impending shortfall of federal funding support on its own.  But we are firmly convinced that it is nevertheless crucial for the state to provide whatever funds it can to help mitigate the effects of federal cutbacks to the fullest possible extent.  It is true that this will require a financial investment on the part of the Colorado state government to make this happen.  But we maintain that the losses that the people of Colorado would suffer if no effort were made to protect our state’s arts and sciences would be incalculably greater.

In closing, we wish to point out several reasons why we firmly believe that it is critical for the State of Colorado to act now and take steps to create a Colorado Endowment for the Arts and Sciences.  At a purely pragmatic level, this endowment could potentially help to save thousands of Colorado-based jobs, maintain the high quality of Colorado’s universities and museums, ensure that Colorado continues to foster important advances in the arts, the humanities, and the sciences, and preserve our state’s position as an important player in our nation's cultural and scientific life.  Moreover, by creating this endowment, Colorado can also send a powerful signal to our nation and the world that the people of this state do not accept the Trump administration’s implicit argument that support for the arts, humanities, and sciences is not and should not be a priority of the American people.  And furthermore, the development of this state-level endowment for arts and sciences could also serve as an inspiration and a blueprint for other states to help them preserve their own scientific and cultural institutions.  Thus, if Governor Hickenlooper and the Colorado General Assembly act now to protect the arts and sciences, then in addition to saving Colorado jobs and preserving our cultural and scientific resources, our state can also play an important role in helping to safeguard the scientific and cultural foundations of American civilization itself.  A great deal is at stake here, and so we call upon you, the governor and elected representatives of the people of Colorado, to take immediate action to save our state's cultural and scientific institutions by finding ways to give them the financial support that they will desperately need in the absence of future federal government funding.



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