Stallone not taking Trump's arts job

Actor Sylvester Stallone (right) with Mel Gibson at the 21st Annual Huading Global Film Awards in Los Angeles last Thursday, where he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Actor Sylvester Stallone (right) with Mel Gibson at the 21st Annual Huading Global Film Awards in Los Angeles last Thursday, where he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Sylvester Stallone suggested on Sunday that he was not interested in taking a top arts leadership role in the Trump administration, including as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

"I am flattered to have been suggested to be involved with the National Endowment of the Arts," the Rocky star said in a statement.

Republican allies of President- elect Donald Trump made overtures to Stallone, 70, last week about an arts-related job, according to two Trump advisers. But they added that no formal offer had been made and that Mr Trump and Stallone had not met or spoken about the actor joining the administration.

The National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency that awards grants to cultural groups and projects, has been a target of both Republican budget-cutters and conservatives who oppose taxpayer support for the arts on ideological grounds.

Republicans have at times tried to eliminate the agency and have scorned it when public money has gone to controversial projects.

Mr Trump's intentions towards the endowment, as well as its sister agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities, remain unclear. The arts endowment has a budget of nearly US$150 million (S$217 million).

Stallone's statement did not close the door to his playing a role in the new administration.

He said he thought he would be more effective in helping military veterans "find gainful employment, suitable housing and financial assistance these heroes respectfully deserve".

Mr Trump has left few clues as to how he might approach public arts funding and arts education. He and his company have made relatively modest donations to Lincoln Center in the past several years and neither he nor his foundation is known to provide substantial support to the city's museums.

When asked about his position on funding the arts, Mr Trump told The Washington Post this year that it was up to Congress to "make the determination as to what the spending priorities ought to be".

He later said critical thinking, reading, writing and mathematics are "the keys to economic success", but added that "a holistic education that includes literature and the arts is just as critical to creating good citizens".

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2016, with the headline 'Stallone not taking Trump's arts job'. Print Edition | Subscribe