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.
These public theaters don’t charge admission and like to thank “generous donors” for their part in keeping art free to the public. However, the controversial stunt pulled onstage caused Bank of American and Delta to pull support. But the NYSF is doing just fine, as Andrzejewski points out:
Posted OpenTheBooks.com data reveals that state and city agencies gave the largest amounts of government grants to NYSF. Since 2010, New York City gave NYSF $23.5 million to build and renovate their public theater and funded an additional $5 million as ‘payments to cultural institutions.’ Over the past three years, the New York state agency ‘Council on the Arts’ chipped in $310,000…
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.
Tell us again why federally defunding programs like the NEA is such a terrible idea when a director of a play can rake in a six-figure salary paid for by local taxes and wealthy donors?