Thursday, January 22, 2009
Arlene Goldbard on Community Arts and Cultural Development
My friend Mike Wilkerson, who teaches graduate courses in arts management at American University in Washington DC, posted a link to the Community Arts Network Reading Room on his facebook page. There's an excellent piece there by Arlene Goldbard, called "The New New Deal 2009: Public Service Jobs for Artists?" , illustrated with WPA posters from the Library of Congress.
There are terrific links there, including one to Obama's arts and humanities transition team. Here is a link to the National Archive on-line collection of WPA resources.
Goldbard's work is immensely helpful for taking on those anti-arts types emerging now on tv news, objecting to stimulus package appropriations for the National Endowment for the Arts. She recalls the CETA era under Jimmy Carter, and how it was shut down immediately once Reagan was elected:
During the heyday of CETA, murals, plays and publications also excited controversy, but the ultimate and successful opponent was right-wing opposition to the whole concept of public service through the arts, which was ridiculed as using taxpayer funds to give people jobs playing with paints.
I was a CETA artist for a couple of years, working with senior citizens and children, and yes – we did play with paints, words, and other materials. It was a very enriching experience, for which I made a modestly sustaining income.
Goldbard's summary gives an excellent up-to-the-minute report on public arts funding and its history. At her website you'll find more personal writing about her work on behalf of cultural development, as well as information about her book, New Creative Community.
Arlene Goldbard is a writer, speaker and consultant on culture, politics and spirituality, based in Kansas City, Mo. She is a long-time veteran of the community cultural development field who began writing about cultural policy (including public service employment for artists) more than 30 years ago. She worked at the San Francisco Neighborhood Arts Program in 1973, when the first CETA arts jobs were created. Her most recent book is “New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development” (New Village Press, November 2006). You can subscribe to her blog and download her writings at her Web site.