Medical research, arts on President Trump's chopping block

SEATTLE - Medical research and the arts may seem like worlds apart, but advocates insist that both would suffer under President Donald Trump’s budget plan.

As a school group takes in the images painted on the canvas before them, the director of the Seattle Art Museum wonders how much longer art can nurture the next generation.

Kim Rorschach fears the worst from the possible elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, which received $148 million from the federal government last year.

“It's a very important funding source for us and it would be a huge loss," Rorschach said.

President Trump wants to move the money to other agencies, even though those NEA funds have made so many exhibits and programs possible for the museum.

“It's very distressing,” Rorschach said, adding “it's not completely unexpected."

Far less expected is the possible blow to research institutions such as Fred Hutchinson. The president's budget blueprint slashes $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health. Fred Hutch receives more NIH grants than any other cancer research center in the country.

“These proposed cuts are indefensible and would severely impeded our progress,” said Dr. Gary Gilliland, the Fred Hutch president and director. “Patient lives are at stake."

One of those patients is Beth Caldwell, whose breast cancer became terminal when it spread to her bones. She hopes researchers will find a cure so she can live to see her children grow into adults.

“It's just not acceptable that people will die because of these cuts,” Caldwell said. “People like me will die because of these cuts."

Preserving art doesn't carry the same life and death implications, but the Seattle Art Museum director believes it's still vital for the soul.

“Art feeds the human spirit and helps us know what it is to be human, and makes life worth living,” Rorschach said.