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Robert De Niro slams Trump arts cuts in awards speech

“I call it what it is - bullshit,” says veteran US actor.

Robert De Niro criticised President Donald Trump’s cuts to arts funding while accepting the Film Society of Lincoln Centre’s Chaplin Award in New York on Monday (8 May).

In his first federal budget plan, Trump proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports PBS and National Public Radio (NPR).

The actor said in his speech: “Everyone knows Chaplin was a great artist, but he made his movies to entertain. It was only later that they became art. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of our government’s hostility towards art.

“The budget proposal, among its other draconian cuts to life-saving and life enhancing programs, eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

“For their own devices and political purposes, the administration suggests that the money for these all-inclusive program goes to the rich, liberal elite. This is what they now call an alternative fact. I call it what it is - bullshit.”

He added: “The administration’s mean-spiritedness towards our art and entertainment is an expression of their mean-spirited attitude about people who want that art and entertainment, people who also want and deserve decent wages, a fair tax system, a safe environment, education for their children and healthcare for all. 

“All of us in film — directors, actors, writers, crews, audiences — owe a debt to Charlie Chaplin, an immigrant who probably wouldn’t pass today’s extreme vetting. I hope we’re not keeping out the next Chaplin.”

De Niro also joked that arts funding contributed to the “dumbass comedies of Robert De Niro” and the “overrated performances of Meryl Streep” – a reference to Trump’s criticism of the actress after the Golden Globes.

Read more:
Hollywood responds to Trump arts cut fears

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