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The arts . . .
Lisa Kanak wrote:
I think the biggest questions regarding "funding for the arts" may be, is
federal funding necessary and is it achieving its stated function (bringing
art and music to the masses)?
>> Who said that the stated function was to bring art and music to "the
The $99 million endowment the NEA received serves primarily two audiences -
the wealthy elite
>> How so?
$19.8 million of the NEA's budget vanishes into administrative overhead.
>> Unlike the budgets of other agencies and programs?
$33.0 million goes to just SIX cities (Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C.,
Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco
>> Whose metropolitan areas have 20-25% of the American population
(hardly cities in "need" of
additional entertainment for the masses).
>> No city is in need of additional entertainment for "the masses". That's
what television is for.
Additionally, the money seems to be doled out based on ideological,
political lines. $63.6 million of all NEA grant money is sent to
>> i.e., urban districts, where artists live, and where the vast majority of
cultural institutions are located
and 143 congressional districts receive absolutely
>> i.e., where artists don't live. How many of these congressional districts
had viable applications, or any applications?
(these, by the way, are most likely the districts without much of
anything - the rural, poor areas the NEA was started to "help.") Here in
Ft. Smith - a city of over 70,000 and the second largest city in Arkansas,
our local symphony receives approximately $3,000 a year - once you factor
in all the work that has to be done to secure the grant, it amounts to less
>> Compare oranges with oranges. Does the Boston Symphony get any NEA money?
The New York Philharmonic? I don't think so.
The majority of our funding comes from fundraising events
(attended primarily by the local rich folk who can spend $5,000 to purchase
a hand-carved orchestra baton and the "right" to lead the symphony in
"Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Phillips Sousa on the 4th of July.)
Lastly, the arts will survive without the NEA -- since 1965 private
funding for the arts has been rising.
>> By what measure, and has it been rising since, say, 1990? Hasn't it been
rising *because* state and federal sources are drying up? This doesn't
represent a net increase in financial support for the arts.
NEA funding makes up about 1% of
total funding for the arts - hardly anything substantial.
>> This is an argument for reducing it to zero?
In fact, state
and local governments outspend the NEA and their funding for arts has also
>> See above.
The arts are a healthy industry - with employment and earnings for
artists rising, the number of arts establishments rising, ticket receipts
rising, and the educational level of artists rising.
>> Define "the arts." I don't have cards sitting here, but my sense is that
big institutions are doing OK and smaller ones are closing. Several second
tier symphony orchestras have shut down in the past few years. Boston and New
York have several fewer small theatre companies than they had ten years ago.
Museums keep raising admissions prices and cutting back on free or discounted
In short, the NEA does not serve any substantive function in regards to
"promoting the arts" and can easily be dissolved without making any
significant negative impact on symphonies, museums, non-profit theatres,
>> That may be true, given the tremendous gutting that the past several
administrations have applied to its budget. If you starve somebody into a
coma, you've eliminated a lot of the reasons for keeping him alive; you've got
>> Les Phillips
Lexington High School
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