Starving Art Funding

26 09 2012

The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!

The government is not going to provide arts funding.  That means I won’t be able to paint, sculpt, sing, orate, dance, weave, write   .  .  .  Oh, woe is me!

Well, isn’t that just the silliest thing you ever heard?  Of course, all of us who want to paint, sculpt, sing, orate, dance, weave, write can just keep on doing what we love to do.  There’s no law against it and, as long as there is no law against it, the government cannot be held responsible for me – you – anyone not making art.

Yes, I know government funding has supported a lot of great arts programs and helped a lot of artists over the years. I understand that we have grown accustomed to having government support for arts. I do not deny that the arts are worthy of funding.  So what’s my point?

My point is that, whether or not we agree with the ongoing changes in the way our relatively scarce tax dollars are allocated amongst relatively massive and important demands on them, we are not going to see meaningful funding for the arts in the federal budget; so, we have to go to Plan B.

What Plan B?  Well, if we call ourselves artists, we are claiming some serious creative mojo, so let’s figure it out for ourselves. My as-responsible-as-I-can-be approach is to reframe the issue to reflect my reality. Here it is:

  1.  There have been arts and artists throughout history, even when there was absolutely zero publicly financed programming; no reason to think we can’t continue.
  2. There have been arts patrons throughout history; no reason to ignore them now.
  3. There have been privately funded and extraordinarily successful artists and institutions throughout history; no reason to ignore those options now.

There are people in our world who’ll support the arts; people who will choose to donate to institutions, to collect particular artists’ works, to buy season tickets to the ballet; people who will, of their own accord, put their money where their hearts are to keep their community lively and diverse and intelligent and beautiful.

It might seem a surer bet to get a government grant, but, let’s face it, there’s not much that’s not shaky relative to our country’s budget nowadays.  We need to do our work in the world in which we live, not one we wish existed. That make-believe world is why we make art.




3 responses

26 09 2012
Christine Goldbeck

Paula: How correct you are. We will continue to make art and to spread awareness about buying handmade in PA and handmade in America by independent artists and artisans.

I always appreciate your optimism and your inspiration.


28 09 2012


30 09 2012

I agree with what you are saying about persevering. But also… I know of several jazz series that would become out of the financial reach of many more people if it was not for government grants, and that saddens me. I do know that there are greater needs than jazz concerts, like food and shelter Peace and Hope

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