Monday, August 14, 2017

taxpayer subsidies for millionaires

Robert De Niro mugging for the camera in his American Express TV commercial

Robert De Niro on suggested cuts to the NEA :

Robert De Niro ripped into the Trump administration’s plans to chop funding to the arts tonight at a gala benefit in his honor at Lincoln Center on Monday night. In his acceptance speech, De Niro called for health care and referenced Donald Trump’s comments about Meryl Streep following her own honor at the Golden Globes earlier this year, but he reserved the bulk of his ire for lamenting to strip funding to government support to agencies supporting the arts.

“We make movies to entertain audiences. Audiences vote by seeing them; critics vote by writing about them; and then posterity takes its time to decide if they’re art — or not,” De Niro said while accepting the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 44th annual Chaplin Award. “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 divisive political purposes, the administration suggests that the money for these all-inclusive programs goes to rich liberal elites. This is what they now call an ‘alternative fact,’ but I call it bullshit.

Who could imagine rich liberal elites wanting subsidies for rich liberal elite multimillionaires?

Robert DeNiro (net worth $200,000,000) is a founder of the Tribeca Film Institute and a member of it's board of directors. According to the NEA grant search for "Tribeca Film Institute" :

In 2017 they received 3 grants totaling $50,000.
In 2016 they received a single $50,000 grant.
In 2015 they received a single $15,000 grant.
In 2014 they received a single $40,000 grant.
In 2013 they received a single $50,000 grant.
In 2012 they received two grants totaling $95,000 grant.
In 2011 they received two grants totaling $90,000 grant.
no grants in 2010 and 2009
In 2008 they received a single $40,000 grant.
no grants from its founding in 2002 to 2007
In total that is $430,000. That is an average of $43,000 per year from it's first grant to 2017.

According to the NEH grant search for "Tribeca Film Institute" :
2010 the received $65,000
2011 they received $350,000
2013 they received a supplement grant of $75,000
2014 they received $20,000 ($40,000 approved but only $230,000 awarded)
In total that is $510,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Together from the NEA & NEH it comes to $940,000 over 10 years or an average of $94,000 per year. I wonder if he mentioned in his speech that he is complaining that his pet project would lose out on getting government money?

Here is Robert De Niro in a Subaru car TV commercial

Here is Robert de Niro in a Docomo dVideo Japanese TV commercial

Here is Robert De Niro in an American Express commercial

Here is Robert De Niro in a Santander Bank TV commercial

Clearly, he is willing to show up in exchange for money as the above ads show as does his work in the movies Dirty Grandpa (2016) and Joy(2015).

I know what you're thinking, without grants from taxpayers whose net worth and yearly income is far, far less than his; will his children go hungry? Good news! Robert De Niro owns 2 or possibly 3 restaurants : NobuTribeca Grill , and the Greenwich Hotel which houses a restaurant. His kids can bus tables and eat other people's leftovers.


Let's look at another liberal elite multimillionaire : Robert Redford net worth $170,000,000

According to the NEA grant search for his "Sundance Institute"
2017  3 grants worth $270,000
2016  3 grants worth $270,000
2015  3 grants worth $280,000
2014  3 grants worth $225,000
2013  2 grants worth $95,000
2012  2 grants worth $180,000
2011  2 grants worth $180,000
2010  2 grants worth $225,000
2009  2 grants worth $180,000
2008  2 grants worth $175,000
2007  2 grants worth $155,000
2006  2 grants worth $150,000
2005  2 grants worth $150,000
2004  2 grants worth $150,000
2003  2 grants worth $133,000
2002  2 grants worth $127,000
2001  2 grants worth $125,000
2000  3 grants worth $132,000
1999  1 grant worth $100,000
1998  2 grants worth $161,750

Robert Redford has said that the founding of Sundance was helped by NEA grants. They have received NEA grants every year since 1981 but unfortunately anything before 1998 isn't included in the NEA grant search. A search of the NEH grant database returned nothing. Between 1998 and 2017 the Sundance Institute has received $3,463,750 or an average of $173,187 per year.

here is Robert Redford's image and his voiceover in a Honda ad

here is a Robert Redford voiceover for a United Airline TV ad

Like Robert De Niro, Robert Redford is capable of making money selling his talents,

Robert Redford's reaction to the prospect of NEA cuts :
In 1981, the National Endowment for the Arts played a fundamental role in helping me create Sundance Institute. The NEA generously contributed a $25,000 grant to assist us in launching the very first labs for independent filmmakers to develop new work (programs that continue to this day).

That first promising investment from the NEA, and their belief in my project was vital to launching programs that now support tens of thousands of American artists working in film and theater and new media....
...[cuts to the NEA] would deprive all our citizens of the culture and diversity the humanities brings to our country

He describes the NEA's investment as "vital" to his pet project. Does anyone believe that if the government hadn't thrown in some cash then the famous millionaire would have said "well, I could hit up Paul Newman for that $25,000. Or I could beg for money from business associates and coworkers. Or just work more. But no matter how much I think the Sundance Institute is a good idea; getting cash from taxpayers is indispensable! If I don't get at least $8.50 from the government then screw you clowns, I'll just scrap the whole thing!"

In 2015 they received $280,000 from the NEA. In context, this is a small amount to the Sundance Institute as their revenue from all sources was $45,661,608.  That means in 2015 less than one percent, a mere 0.61%, of the Sundance Institute's budget was from NEA grants but apparently that is enough to "deprive all our citizens of the culture and diversity the humanities brings to our country." Not giving a famous millionaire actor money deprives all our citizens of diversity?

One last thing, according to the filings posted by the Sundance Institute received $2,306,564 in 2015 from government grants (7.6%). That leaves $2,026,564 in taxpayer money that they received but with a government so large and opaque I don't know how or why or where they received it from.


In contrast, this 2012 article on celebrity donations mentions Alec Baldwin giving over a million dollars to the cleverly named Alec Baldwin Foundation. The foundation then issued grants  of $50,000 to the NY Philharmonic, $42,500 to Waterkeeper Alliance, and $250,000 to the Carol M Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The NEA grant search returns zero results for "Alec Baldwin." He's putting his money towards his personal interests without demanding uninterested taxpayers also give money according to his whim. Good for him.

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