Election Results and Impact on the Arts

November 7, 2008 at 05:15 PM ·

Americans for the Arts Action Fund President and CEO Robert L. Lynch gave the  following statement  on the results of Election Day:

“The  historic election of Sen. Barack Obama to be the 44th president of the United  States will have tremendous impact on the nation’s arts  community, public schools, and creative workforce. His commitment to arts  and arts education on the campaign trail is just a preview of what his  administration can accomplish.  President-Elect Obama demonstrates  the leadership and vision to advance the arts in America through  investing in more arts education in public schools, advocating  for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts,  promoting cultural diplomacy, and supporting artists rights.

Yesterday’s  election results also expanded the base of support for the arts in Congress, which will help move arts and arts education initiatives  through the legislative process. Initiatives that will fuel innovation  and creativity are key to our economic recovery and global competitiveness.  A new report issued last month by The Conference Board, "Ready to Innovate," touts the importance of arts education in building the  21st-century workforce.  The arts are good for business, good for  the economy, and good for the spirit.

In this election, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund raised the public dialogue about the arts and arts education throughout the entire campaign cycle: from presidential primaries in New Hampshire to  congressional races in all 50 states. Through our ArtsVote2008 initiative, we  successfully advocated for presidential and congressional candidates to  make strong, public statements and commitments in support of arts and  arts education.  Please view our multimedia  timeline for further details on ArtsVote.

On the state and local front, our arts advocacy partners successfully  engaged candidates and voters throughout the country to provide more  support for the arts. Specifically in Minnesota, an historic statewide  ballot initiative—the Clean Water, Land and Legacy  Amendment—passed amending the state constitution to dedicate a  portion of sales tax to support its natural and cultural resources.   This initiative will infuse $30 million alone to Minnesota cultural organizations, nearly tripling the current budget of the State  Arts Board.  An additional $10 million to $20 million will fund arts  education programs, the Minnesota Historical Society, and other local  historical societies.  This continues the longstanding trend  demonstrating that voters are willing to invest in public funding of the  arts.”


Replies (28)

November 7, 2008 at 05:23 PM ·

What is Obama's attitude towards classical music? Has he ever mentioned his personal tastes?  Is he going to encourage public funding of music schools, educational programs, orchestras?

November 7, 2008 at 05:44 PM ·

Obama's taste in music range from Miles Davis, Dylan to Bach. That is my understanding !!


David Blackmon

November 7, 2008 at 06:16 PM ·

Glad to read that, Karen. That's encouraging news. 

November 7, 2008 at 07:00 PM ·

 Methinks, Joe the plumber is not going to like this ;-)

November 7, 2008 at 07:51 PM ·

More taxes for things many taxpayers don't want -- like GM cars.


Hope and Change! 

November 7, 2008 at 08:22 PM ·

Well, I, for one, am an American who desperately wants more arts and arts education funding. Moreover,  I believe America has spoken pretty clearly about what it wants and what it doesn't. 

Equating arts-education funding with the bailout of a failing automaker? Please. 


November 7, 2008 at 08:27 PM ·

If American's wanted it they would pay for it. Since the can't or won't  they are asking for people who don't want it to pay for it. How is that different than cars? 

November 7, 2008 at 08:36 PM ·

Education and the automotive industry are not comparable.  I believe in public education,  I believe in arts education and funding it.  I believe wholeheartedly in public funding ot the arts; I think it enriches our culture in ways that wouldn't happen otherwise.  Other countries do it, and I believe it serves them well.  We could discuss this for hours, but I don't  have the time, not this second anyway.  I know you don't agree, and won't.  So be it. 

I'm glad America has made its decision the way it has.

November 7, 2008 at 09:15 PM ·

Don't get me wrong Sean. I do love the arts and I think they have a very high value and I consume as much of them as I want but I hardly think it fair to demand that my next door neighbor who has no real interest pay for them. I would like to influence him to enjoy the arts more and perhaps he may come over some afternoon when friends play some chamber music at the house. By the way, another neighbor is a senior manager at a Honda car dealership. I am sure that she resents having to pay taxes to support her very inefficient competition. Honda isn't suffering like GM but she will be tightening her belt this year. 

But maybe our new administration will pay for this and maybe they won't. I am sure that everyone under the sun has expectations  for a share of the redistributed pie as this woman does. Will there be enough? (I don't blame the lady. How is she any different than GM or an arts organization?). Don't be surprised if your pet funding wish doesn't make it to the final list.

Hope and Change

November 7, 2008 at 09:46 PM ·

I believe in funding for the arts, but I believe strongly it should be on a local level.  If the citizens of Seattle, my home, decide we want to pass levies to fund the arts, that is great.  So far, we really do support music, art, culture, and our parks.  In fact, we just passed a levy to fund renovation of a cultural landmark on Teusday.  Now, If we hadn't voted to fund these things, I don't think the federal government should be telling us that we have to. 

That is the difference between levy funding and federal funding.  The feds take our taxes and spend it however they please while a levy is very limited in the scope of what it can do, where it's sources of income are, and how much of our taxes we can spend. 

We need to ask ourselves how much power we really want to give any President. 

November 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM ·

We need to fund for the arts on all levels...local, state and federal. I will get bashed for this I know but I don't care. It is has been proven that students who have a background in the arts do better in all areas of education. Do we want our society dumbed down each generation to the point of no return ? I hope not. I was very lucky in that the arts were well funded when I was growing up. That led me into a career of playing music and for that I am forever greatful. I want the same opportunities given to our children and and further generations down the road. The free market has shown it does not do this well.....listen to country and pop radio.... I make my case !!!


David Blackmon

November 8, 2008 at 12:21 AM ·

Who gets to say what is dumbed down? Who gets to be the arbiter of our values? There are country, rock, and pop music stations all over the dial and very few classical stations. Why? Because that is what people listen to. That is what they pay for (through advertising to be sure). 

Who has the right to take their tax dollars and say this is good for you? And by the way what is it that is good for them? Plainchant? Renaissance music? German lieder? String Quartets? Piano sonatas? Full length Wagner operas? Arnold Schoenberg? Karlheinz Stockhausen?

There isn't a lot of federal funding for the arts but it goes for (at the extreme end) photographs of crucifixes in urine jars and at the tamer end performance art. Why should I subsidize this? I want to spend my money on augmenting my chamber music group with professionals. (What a cruel way to make a living that would be!) Can I get a subsidy for this?

For years the Netherlands guaranteed artists an income and they filled warehouses. That has changed but they collect a lot of taxes and subsidize a lot of art and the public interest in the arts is still declining. 


Hope and Change

November 8, 2008 at 01:07 AM ·

Perhaps war is an 'art' as well..... we certainly pay for that, or at least borrow for it....

I am willing to commit my tax dollar to the many faces of art as a whole just as I'm willing to help pay for education, streets, sewer, police, fire protection...

I feel that it is a basic necessity for the improvement of all.

November 8, 2008 at 01:26 AM ·

Why wait? Contribute your dollar now and take a tax deduction. But please don't contribute mine.


Hope and Change 

November 8, 2008 at 01:42 AM ·

I have contributed to non-profits, though I do not have a large say in where tax dollars go.

Perhaps we should not support anything that requires tax dollars?


November 8, 2008 at 02:07 AM ·

Does the American government subsidize the National Football League?  What about the National Basketball Association?  Maybe the voters in MInnessota voted to put their tax money to pay for NASCAR. If not, why not?  Shouldn't the government get itself involved with these forms of public entertainment?  I know so many kids in my neighborhood and school who would like to play football, basketball, and drive race cars and it seems like if the government would invest as much of my tax money as it possibly could to supporting NASCAR education society as a whole would benefit.  I hope President Elect Obama would consider allocating money to these goals, espcially when it is attached to a Land and Water conservation bill like it was in Minnessota....seems like the obvious place for it.  I'm sure the voters who voted for the Land and Water conservation bill were totally aware of all the extra stuff added into it.

November 8, 2008 at 02:34 AM ·

I don't think that there are any federal subsidies for sports teams but there are a lot of local tax subsidies. The local subsidies frequently are for a special surtax to fund stadium construction or issuance of tax free municipal debt with subsidized rental rates for the sports facilities. Considering the size of the crowds at these events they are politically palatable to a reasonable number of taxpayers. These tax rebates are sometimes the subject of ballot initiatives or special elections. They don't always pass but they are frequently supported. (The voter turnout is usually too low to say that they are wildly popular but whose fault is that?)

Sports fans should pay their own way. Of course sports franchise owners claim that they add jobs to the economy but studies typically debunk this.

My guess is that if a local symphony orchestra asked for such a facilities subsidy it would be rejected by voters in most jurisdictions.

Hope and Change

November 8, 2008 at 02:58 AM ·

Bruce, Tax dollars are necessary to pay for the things we all say we need but we all need to pay. I think most of us don't want a nuclear bomb dropped on our heads and most of us would like some roads and schools and policemen and firemen. But I doubt that many of us want to be taxed to pay someone's mortgage, subsidize a failed business or pay for someone else's entertainment.

Too often people who pay little or nothing in taxes vote to take the money from people who build businesses, create jobs and support charities. Yes and buy things for their enjoyment that require the employment of others. When we tax these people excessively they just decide to buy fewer things that you and I make or distribute, give less money to charities (like the arts we enjoy) and cut our jobs in their companies. But it is their money and if we decide that we can control it they can just quit working and innovating and investing and then see what our lives will be like.

Our lives depend on the efforts of talented and determined people just like our arts depend on the efforts of talented and determined people. I am very happy that there are better people than me in the world who are willing to risk their money to improve their lives and in the process improve mine. My life is far better for it.

I am very suspicious of someone with no skill or ingenuity except the ability to get elected who wants to improve everyone else's life by taking my money.

Hope and Change

November 8, 2008 at 04:02 AM ·

OK.  We officially know Corwin is not so happy about the election results.  


November 8, 2008 at 05:36 AM ·

The question isn't how to save the arts.  The question is how to get paid to save the arts, which is fine.  If you want to just save the arts, just go down the street to that hall that sits empty 200 night of the year (which was built with public funds) and play somethin'.

Anybody who accepts public funds for anything ought to realize the money is taken at gunpoint and given to you.  If you don't pay, you go to prison, and if you escape from prison they shoot you. If you're going to seriously claim you're benefitting society (which is a favorite way to dress it, I think), it seems to me you've got to be good enough for society to more than balance that situation out.  That ain't easy. You better sound damn good ;)  Might be easier to figure out how to get paying fans.  I don't know. 

November 8, 2008 at 05:24 AM ·

Hey Patricia tell me in detail how you came to that conclusion.


Hope and Change 

November 8, 2008 at 01:12 PM ·

hope things will turn for the better for classical arts in the years to come from the federal level, but will have to see it to believe it and so should everyone.   to trickle down to the grassroot level takes times and a lot of initiatives, if not legislation.

here is something that is encouraging to read but in fact quite vague:

“The  historic election of Sen. Barack Obama to be the 44th president of the United  States will have tremendous impact on the nation’s arts  community, public schools, and creative workforce."

"His commitment to arts  and arts education on the campaign trail is just a preview of what his  administration can accomplish. "

"President-Elect Obama demonstrates  the leadership and vision to advance the arts in America through  investing in more arts education in public schools, advocating  for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts,  promoting cultural diplomacy, and supporting artists rights."

November 8, 2008 at 07:45 PM ·

November 8, 2008 at 08:52 PM ·

 The answer for arts education funding is simple: pull all funding for sports and funnel it all into arts education!!! I'm sure that would be a very popular move. 

November 8, 2008 at 11:20 PM ·

From what I can gather by looking at their website, this is an advocacy group that educates and rates politicians/lawmakers.  It makes sense that they focus on Obama now, as the President-Elect, he's going to be making decisions that affect all of us.

I posted this item because I didn't know about the existence of this advocacy group before and was glad to learn about it.  I thought that others here might also like to know about it.  (I was forwarded the item from a friend who is a professional violist and viola teacher.) 

I think that if you're feeling alone and frustrated about an issue, it can help to get together and join your voice with others who share your concerns. 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  --Margaret Mead

November 17, 2008 at 04:51 AM ·

Let's get to the basics, i.e. the Constitution.  Education is specifically designated as a state responsibility, which means the Federal gov't has no legal role to play.  NONE.   Jimmy Carter's Dept. of Education is a therefore a constitutional no-no.  Reagan tried to get rid of it, but so many people and institutions were on the D of Ed. dole by that time that he was not successful.  Likewise supporting the arts.  If it's not a power specifically assigned to the feds, they have no legally viable role.   I'm with Corwin:  quit picking my pocket to support someone else's tastes.  How many more Maplethorpe's are we going to pander to??  If your community is too cheap or too uninformed to support things you value, go somewhere else that will.

January 5, 2009 at 01:08 AM ·

I'm more than happy to see more support for The Arts.


...but not when it comes from the federal government.  Nope.  Nu-uh.  No way, no how. 

That reaks too much of communism and other totalitarian governments in which some music is approved of and funded by the government while other forms of art are not.  If we as artists and musicians depend on the government to fund us, then the government gains control over what we do and how we do it.

On the local and state level, yes, maybe.  We can easily move to another state where the situation might be different, if necessary.

But federal government?  No thanks.  Keep the Change.

January 5, 2009 at 04:19 AM ·

Don: that's nothing new.  The fed's solution to problems is usually, if not always, to throw money at them.

When it comes to the arts I'm happy to put my money where my mouth is.  Were it not for politicians' meddlesome social agendas, I'd have more of it to put there.

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