Wednesday, March 11, 2009
25 Random Things: Funding for the Arts
I feel very passionate about the need for funding for the arts.
Mike Wilkerson, who used to manage Ragdale with writer Deborah Galyan, now teaches arts management at American University, writing blogposts to a site called 1/2 Mile Outside the Beltway. There is a sequence of messages there now on the subject of arts funding, including this one from February 12th:
We need new arguments
The elimination of the arts from the stimulus bill -- and the chorus of "who needs the arts" that followed even on liberal sites like Huffington Post and Daily Kos, suggests that we have so spectacularly failed to make our case that the arts are important. The popular imagination doesn't buy the "arts create jobs" concept, even though it's true. People generally understand roads, rails and buildings as ways to employ people. They support (sort of) education, especially when the President talks about crumbling school buildings and the need for science labs.
One of my students last night rather brilliantly linked the beleaguered cause of the arts to the sciences, which, under the previous administration and in the chorus of global warming-deniers, has become a somewhat partisan cause. Who knew that the search for objective truth would become a liberal cause, when even many if not most scientists aren't liberals?
Artists, academics, humanists, scientists -- we're all in the same boat, drifting further and further from the mainstream's perception. Obama's election helped, but we have to row this boat on our own, not wait for his administration's solutions. How shall we speak up for the arts?
You'll find an interesting comment at Mike's site by poet Lyle Daggett, who writes a blog about poetry called A Burning Patience. Lyle brings together a remarkable collection of voices and views – you'll find an extensive list of links to other writers and magazines at his site, as well as timely posts about specific poems, events and publications.
The image above comes from Funding the Arts, the brainchild of Joanne Deutch. One of the best ways to help fund the arts? Buy small press books, tickets to plays, pay attention to what is happening at the margins of our culture. To keep the arts alive, we need better arguments, better critics, better infrastructures for their survival, and audiences that are engaged.