Garth Brooks Speaks Out on Songwriter Rights and Preserving Federal Funding for the Arts at SXSW

Opposes President Trump’s Proposal to Eliminate Arts and Humanities Endowments

After Friday’s (March 17) keynote address at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, Garth Brooks told Billboard that he opposes President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

President Trump’s first federal budget plan was revealed on Thursday (March 16) and also proposes to scrap the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

According to The New York Times, this is the first time a president has called for the ending of endowments. President Lyndon B. Johnson created them in 1965 when he signed legislation declaring that any “advanced civilization” must fully value the arts, the humanities and cultural activity.

Brooks noted in Billboard that he has previously visited Washington D.C., to maintain arts funding.

“It’s worth fighting for,” he said. “You can’t let those arts go. You just can’t. It’s what defines our generation. It’s what defines your country. So, yeah, you can bet that we’ll be yakkin’ in somebody’s ear and start talking and start working up there and try to figure out who to go and talk to and represent the arts, ’cause whatever the result is, it’s your job to try.

“I don’t know where all of the sudden we’ve gotten to where there’s 10 subjects and we don’t agree on one of the 10, now we can’t get along. We can all get along, but the thing is you can’t cut the arts.”

While most artists tend to shy away from sharing their personal politics, songwriter rights were also a main topic in Brooks’ SXSW conversation with Amazon Music vice pesident Steve Boom. Amazon signed an exclusive deal with Brooks last October to make his catalog available for streaming and purchase. However, Amazon users are only allowed to purchase Brooks’ full albums in the interest of preserving the integrity of the original releases.

According to the Austin Chronicle, selling full albums also awards songwriters larger royalty checks and keeps them working in Nashville and Brooks claimed that 84 percent of songwriters have left Nashville over the past decade.

“They get a cut that allows them to stay in town for another eight months,” he said. “Keeping these people in business until they write that song that God sent them down here to write, I think that’s our duty.”