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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Should government fund the arts?

November 8, 2008 at 2:45 AM


This week the United States voted in a change of administration; and despite a general and global sense of hope, markets continued their plummet.

As the economy fails, arts organizations and institutions are feeling the pain to various degrees. Some very prudent organizations continue to do reasonably well. But if your corporate sponsor goes bankrupt, you may well lose that support overnight. If the market causes your restricted endowment to fall below its principal amount, you can't draw on it. And groups that struggled for donations during good times certainly will struggle more during bad times. 

Which brings us to government funding. Are the arts something that should receive government support? And how much? Do we support our arts, even when times get tough? And to what degree?




From Joe Fischer
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 3:23 AM

Why would anyone say 'no' to government funding for the arts ?

Please tell me a reason why not .

From Corwin Slack
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 3:36 AM

Joe take a look at some other related threads. No one wants to repeat all that here. 

From Corwin Slack
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 3:37 AM


How about this question:

Should federal, state, or local entities subsidize professional sports teams?

From Joe Fischer
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 3:42 AM


We are not speaking of sporting teams.We are talking about the arts-music in this case !

From Robert Niles
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 3:51 AM

Corwin, I think the relevant term there is "publicly funded stadiums." Not to mention the funds spent on the state university college teams that serve as farm clubs for pro teams.

Let's face it: Government funds (at least a little bit of) everything. Why should the arts be any different. 

From Joy Laydbak
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Only if a specific levy was passed that is clear on where the funds are coming from and where they are going.  That way, the local people can vote on whether they want arts to be funded in their area and we aren't taking taxpayer dollars away from those who aren't interested.  That way, people who have an affinity to the arts will chose to live in cities who are like minded. 

From Joe Fischer
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 4:10 AM


Most people live where they have the ability to subsist,not where they choose to live !

From Paul G.
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 3:47 AM

I voted yes, because people who are in the arts are generally better people. You don't hear about kids in a high school orchestra slashing tires, and tagging the walls of other schools. I think students of the arts are more deserving as well. Lets be honest, it doesn't take talent to run across a field and knock someone down. Yet those who work hours everyday, recieve little to no recognition.

And like I've said before, my school is just like a movie; jocks get away with murder. One of the "stars" of the football team is in my second period, and the teacher simply let him leave class, and go to walmart to buy food because the game after school is an hour away and he would "starve". Why would the teacher allow this? And the "star" wasn't marked truant or anything like he should be. This happens all the time... In my biology class, it's full of cheerleaders, and they're late all the time and they never get tardies, and I'm late once and get marked tardy and that brings my citizenship grade to an N (the second worst). And in my home life, my little brother is the most popular kid in junior high; my parents favorite; and the highlight of the sports director's life. All the sports people in the city know his name, and yet he doesn't do anything to work towards playing football, basketball and baseball. He just doeds it and it works out for some reason. He hardly ever goes to practices, things like that.

The irony being that those who work so hard every day will most likely never be noticed. But recognition isn't what matters to me, the fact that everything is simply handed over to atheletes etc.I think everything that is given to atheletes should be reduced. They don't hard enough for everything that is handed to them. I just think that  sports should be less focused on and arts take the spotlight. Sports aren't going to help a student through their life.

So I guess my comment was more of a rant. Oh well.

From Corwin Slack
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 5:06 AM

I would be fine seeing the question anyway you want to phrase it.

All either of these questions are likely to prove is that we all want the government to take money from others to fund the things we are unable or unwilling to pay for ourselves.

I don't think that people get where I am coming from. Very few people are more passionate about the arts than I am but I think that people who don't share my values shouldn't have to pay for them. I don't think I should be paying for sports arenas (which are a subsidy to sports teams who don't have to raise the money and pay the taxes and interest on it. Even if they pay rent they don't have to take the risk of a business failure with a white elephant stadium on their hands. ) But I will grant you that arena subsidies probably have a lot more voter support (i.e. perception of shared benefit) than the arts. I wish it weren't so.

I hate all forms of welfare and especially welfare paid to rich businessmen and incompetent company managements. I think that there are supporters of President-Elect Obama who don't want to see any money spent on music created by dead European males.  

From Tommy Atkinson
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 5:15 AM

The arts are one of the most important things to a society. The arts give people purpose. Everybody without exception benefits from at least one of the artistic disciplines - music, theatre, dance, literature, visual art, etc etc etc in one way or another.

The government also has a responsibility to help people do what they can't do for themselves - this includes well-funded arts programs.

From Joy Laydbak
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 6:26 AM

Joe, I grew up dirt, dirt, dirt poor.  I found a way.  So can they. 

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 10:15 AM


I sure wish I knew more about how the government runs.  My philosophies tend to be on the libertarian side of things, meaning the less government, the better.  However, we all benefit from the government's provisions.  My question is, if the government didn't take money in order to support the arts, and instead the money stayed with the people, do you think the people would fund the arts?  I don't know.

I think we all complain about big government spending.  We like to point fingers at pork, but sometimes the arts make up a slice of that "pork".  Ted Stevens is an example of a senator who has been notorious for "bringing home the bacon" and a lot of people don't like him for that.  I can't lump it all into one big pile and say I don't like it though, because everywhere I go, I see educational buildings, sports facilities, and musical programs that were funded by his actions in DC.  (Come to think of it, my husband even got a nice paying job hanging one of those steel buildings!  We used the money for our wedding and honeymoon.)

The arts have also been doing well in Alaska because big oil companies such as Conoco-Phillips have been given tax breaks for funding events such as symphony performances.  Instead of taking taxes from the people and using them to support the arts, perhaps incentives could be given to wealthy companies to make healthier donations. 

Like I said, I don't know much about economics.  These are thoughts that I've formed from observations I've made, just from what I've seen around here.

From Anne Horvath
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 12:56 PM

"People who are in the arts are generally better people".   Bless your heart, kid.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 12:44 PM

I believe in government-funded (i.e. public) education, and I believe the arts should be part of that education.  What I observe in my town and in other towns that I have lived is that voters often don't want to fund education when it is left up to them.  I have seen and heard voters say "I don't have kids (or my kids are grown) so I shouldn't have to pay for schools."  This is a case where I think that is clearly short-sighted.  Whether one has children or not, everyone benefits from a well-educated populace.  I don't think the arts are a luxury in schools, nor are sports.  They are both an essential part of an educational experience. 

I do, however, disagree with using public money to create a celebrity culture around these experiences.  So when I say I think sports and the arts should be publicly funded, what I mean is that the money should be used to create real opportunities for everyone to learn and to play, regardless of their sex, their economic or ethnic background, their choice of sport or instrument, or their level of talent.  I don't support, for example, extra public money being given to star players, whether they are football stars or violin stars.  Any resources that go to pampering stars--better locker rooms, nice travel buses, fancy banquets at nice restaurants, appearance fees, handlers and publicity, plaques and trophys-- should come from the audience who want to pay to see the star players, and/or from private donations.

From Paul G.
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 4:39 PM

Anne, does that mean my comment was bad or good or what?

Little hard to tell sarcasm and not through a comment....

From Corwin Slack
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 4:43 PM

 Paul, I think she means you're 15. Don't let the light of innocence burn out to soon.

From Paul G.
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 4:47 PM

Ok, thanks for clearing that up.

From Charlie Caldwell
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 4:38 PM

No. I don't expect the government to fund the arts.

From al ku
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 5:17 PM

if the ans is yes, then we can move onto the next question:

why not have more govt support and how is it done?

it is really a game of politics that i think most musicians only read about if they care to, or simply have no interest because to them politics sounds dirty, if not irrevelent.  to some, money and art do not mix. 

think about govt money as a piece of pie and everyone wants a piece.  you line up every year to have your case heard.  to get that piece that you want, you have to organize, make plans and follow up. 

so who is lobbying the govt for the classical music world? 

dead silence. 

it is a case where everyone wants to do something and nothing gets done because of poor organization, poor planning, and a lack of vision.  until classical musicians band together, there is zero chance you can beat out other special interest groups who have been in the game for a long time, with lobbists who live in DC and wine and dine those in power 24/7.  it is a sick game, particularly when you are not getting your piece:)


From Corwin Slack
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 5:34 PM

Yes and while you are lining up remember that some of the most vociferous supporters of the new president elect think that European culture is sexist, racist, misogynistic, homophobic etc. etc. and they are going to be competing for their share of the pie. And while you're at it remember that some people want billions for the auto industry and hundreds of billions for the banks and then there is still Peggy, bless her heart,  who wants her mortgage paid and her gas tank filled. Where in line do you think the arts are going to be?

From al ku
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 7:02 PM

and corwin i don't want to push you over the edge with this piece:'Astronomical'-Levels?tickers=GS,MS,JPM,BAC,XLF,MER


From David Allen
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 8:02 PM

Here are my thoughts so far.

Paul: there can be artistic talent, i.e. native ability, in anything and everthing including destructive actions. Consider the Navy Seals. Also, there is  a theory that organized sports is a way for us to work off our collective hostilities as a substitute for actual combat.Yes, those who are involved in artistic pursuits generally are not the troublemakers.

Yes, our lives are enriched by the arts, sports, etc. However, enriching life comes after basic survival with which many people find themselves struggling. I think we all know how difficult it is to make a living playing music. The arts are just not considered to be necessary!

Remember that the arts have always had to be subsidized by wealthy patrons; even kings.

From Corwin Slack
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 8:18 PM


It does upset me. Does this about Rahm Emmanuel (Obama's new chief of staff)  and his fortune upset you?What about this one  on contributions to lawmakers from Wall Street? 

Who is the party of the fat cats?

Hope and change.

From Paul G.
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 8:30 PM

I guess I shouldn't have said what I did, but what I said was my opinion and I think I should stand by it.

But I think contradictions can be made in anything. My statement about "those in the arts are generally better people" isn't always true, as the story a few days ago about the violinist who commited scuicide after selling those fake instruments to his students who trusted him. But my statement was from personal experience. The atheletes in all schools are the bullies etc. And I just can't stand what they revolve around and the things that come with them like popularity etc.

From Bob Annis
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 10:42 PM

The government already supports the arts, through tax breaks for contributions, through various museums in Washington DC ( wonderful collections, free to the public) and through occasional grants.

If you want more money (and everyone does) you have to go through the process of extracting it from politicians. This involves spending hundreds of thousands to leverage returns in the millions. The method is through lobbying. There are countless lobbying firms lining K Street NW in DC whose only reason for existing is to promote the agendas of their clients, who want favors ($$$) from the government. You pay them, they bribe (though legal campaign contributions, of course) the appropriate officials, and the benefits roll out.

The government as it stands is a kleptocracy: they extort tax money from the citizenry through threats, and return some of it in the form of services. The rest is divvied up by anyone who knows how to manipulate the levers of power.

So learn how, and go do it. Don't whine here. We can't help. We're the ones who have given up a third or more of our salaries to the govt. (See above paragraph).

From Joe Fischer
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 2:45 AM

Great post  Bob !

You speak the truth !  Thanks !






From Corwin Slack
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 4:52 AM

Hope and Change Bob 

From Jim W. Miller
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Paul G. -
there was this video I saw on youtube once that I've tried to find a couple times since.  Maybe it's gone now.  It was something like could have been on Twilight Zone only better. It's this British school and it's morning before the bell and two guys are talking and one wants the other to cut school with him, but he decides not to and goes on to class.  He takes a seat beside a kind of bully guy who makes some kind of annoying threats at him.  The teacher gets up carrying some handouts and says today I have what you've been waiting for - the secret of life.  And she starts handing out the papers.  When she gets to the guy who sat beside the bully, she says oops, that all I have - you'll have to share with him.  So he tries to read over his shoulder, and he moves the paper.  He says the teacher said to share, and he just ignores him.  There's a girl sitting close by and he calls her name to ask to share and she shushes him.   Eventually he gets up and leaves.  He looks through the door windows of the classrooms he passes by and in every class the students are all engrossed in reading that paper.  Finally he walks up some stairs to the teachers' lounge and class is over and you can hear some teachers chatting through the door.  He knocks kind of quietly and opens the door and his teacher walks over to him.  He says he wouldn't share.  I didn't get to read it.  She looks at him and says that 's the secret of life.   It was called The Only Lesson You'll Ever Need, or something like that maybe.  Some of the comments at the end were really funny, like somebody writing he'd kill the bully and grab the paper and run out with it.  Only in funny teenage language....

From Bob Annis
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 3:48 PM

I believed in politicians' promises until I was in my 30s, Corwin.

If hope were all that was needed to change human nature and make things nice, we'd have been there thousands of years ago.  Anyone who thinks that the billions of dollars that are at stake in manipulating our political system for gain will NOT trump fine oratory is doomed to disappointment. Sorry.

Not that I wouldn't like it to be so.  But see above.

From Craig Coleman
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 9:31 PM

Government has become like a big bird with one left-wing flapping and one right-wing flapping without a clear head to guide it. You wonder if it's going to be able get up again and take flight.

Posted via on November 10, 2008 at 1:03 PM

Well, this is preaching to the

 Sure, the White House has the Marines, an excellent group of musicians. I was quite impressed while viewing President Ford's Washington memorial service. However,the arts in the United States merely get little more than lip service really. Today I find it even more prevalent and yes, very frustrating. I am  glad my public school music career is over....Oh, I am going to just have another cup of coffee and then play some Bach...great way to start the day and also GREAT therapy...LOL

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