School of Oscar-winning Moonlight writer keeps hold of funding after public outcry

The school that spawned creative talents was set to lose state grant funding.

Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes talk Moonlight and diversityNewsweek International

Miami's New World School of Arts has narrowly escaped losing state funding after a public outcry.

The school, whose alumni includes Tarrell Alvin McCraney who wrote the play on which the smash hit film Moonlight was based and won an Oscar for his adapted screenplay, as well as Alex Lacamoire who is the musical director for Broadway favourite Hamilton, was due to have its funding cut from $650,000 to just $20,000.

The reports led to a backlash by the public and the school's alumni, with McCraney posting on Facebook: "Call representative Roy Hardemon… and tell em that a kid with no hope who found his way at New World sent you."

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Lacamoire also took to social media to call on the public to lobby politicians about the proposed cuts.

The cuts were originally reported by Grant Stern, a columnist and broadcaster and another alumnus from the school, described by one of its other alumnus director Billy Corben as "The Juliard of the South".

Stern said of the school: "As an alumni of NWSA, I can say that it was critical to my own career; the place where I honed learned many of the skills you see in my radio broadcasting and journalism today – and that all happened there while I attended school for singing," and urged the public to take action.

However, on Saturday House and Senate chairmen charged with public school spending said their decision was not based on the public backlash. Lawmakers said the school had not provided an adequate explanation of how its funding was spent, leading to the proposed funding cut, but now expected to receive a report that the school was legally required to submit.

The Miami Herald reported on Saturday that despite the turnaround by politicians, the school would still face a significant funding cut. Instead of $650,000 state funding, the school would be awarded $500,000 in the 2017-18 budget.

The proposals came against a backdrop of wider cuts to the arts proposed by US lawmakers. In March Donald Trump sparked controversy after he proposed to eliminate aid to the National Endowment for the Arts, following which Dame Julie Andrews wrote an article for CNN highlighting the importance of the arts in the development and quality of life of children.

Screenwriter and New World alumnus Tarell Alvin McCraney (L) and writer/director Barry Jenkins, winners of Best Adapted Screenplay for 'Moonlight' stand in the press room after the OscarsFrazer Harrison/Getty Images

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