Garth Brooks on Preserving Federal Funding for the Arts: 'It's What Defines our Generation'

He also talks to Billboard about the renaissance of his 1992 song "We Shall Be Free": "It’s more relevant now than what it was when it was released."

Garth Brooks is ready to fight President Donald Trump's proposed federal budget cuts and preserve the now-endangered funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

“It’s worth fighting for,” Brooks told Billboard shortly after a press conference announcing his free outdoor concert Saturday night at South by Southwest’s Outdoor Stage. Noting that he’s previously traveled to Capitol Hill to maintain arts funding, Brooks added that, “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.”

Brooks has never been politically outspoken, but he has written sometimes-controversial songs about domestic abuse and date rape, as well as the 1992 pro-tolerance anthem “We Shall Be Free.” The latter, Brooks noted, is experiencing something of a recent renaissance.

“It may be where we’re all at politically or whatever, [but] ‘We Shall Be Free’ is blowing up,” Brooks said. “I wish I could explain it. The song’s 25 years old, and I think it’s more relevant now than what it was when it was released. I will tell you this: It’s 1,000 times more accepted now than when it was released, and I think it fits today’s times even better than when it was released.”