Discussion of Government Arts Support Should not be Abandoned

From Webster Young founder:

The discussions on whether or not the National Endowment for the Arts should be reformed, defunded, or just abandoned – along with the discussion of whether or not the US Federal government should be involved in supporting the arts at all – these are discussions (I believe) that should not be entirely abandoned.

One subject that has rarely been raised in the debate is that of looking to see how other countries, especially France and England, have handled their support of the arts. The only person I am aware of who pointed to this was Samuel Lipman when he wrote for The New Criterion.

(photo – The Institute de France)

I believe the point is well taken. The US Federal government could learn much – especially from France – in this matter. That is just one of our many concerns here at our Restore the Arts blogsite. However, since we are a French American organization (in membership), it is a point that we are well prepared to defend and discuss.

The French have been the envy of the world (or at the very least, of intellectuals in Great Britain) in this regard for almost two centuries.

We suggest, as a good starting point for understanding the problem of governmental arts support, reading Samuel Lipman’s essay “Culture and Democracy”, written for the New Criterion in the 1980’s.

The discussion has been abandoned for the present, largely because there has been a reaction against the work of the National Arts Council and the NEA, resulting in a sweeping condemnation of all government arts support. The NAC and the NEA may well be impossible to reform, but that does not mean all government arts support cannot work. The more one looks at other countries and studies the question, the more that appears to be a naive conclusion.

2 comments

  1. From Gail Karrer – (a member of the Restore the Arts Facebook group) “As we know, the reason why particular European countries have such marvelous music, art, etc. still today is because they are funded by the government (orchestras, for example.) Americans are often left out in the cold, abandoning really talented musicians, poets and composers, at the same time being one of the richest countries on earth. obviously our society doesn’t respect or value their artists as europeans do, and this is the result of a cultural decline due to the media. If restructuring of existing models doesn’t work, new ways have to be found, and yes, using models from other countries is a great idea, although Americans would have to let some of their ego go. we really aren’t the greatest in everything we do! what a pity that all the innate talent and genius that is in our population is lost! I once wanted to start a serious music and art academy in nm, bringing masters from Europe in order to show how important education in the arts is. think of all the billions of dollars that are being wasted on ridiculous and often evil projects. why isn’t some of this money being funneled into good art. even 1-2% of a city, state or federal budget would be enough to fund an orchestra or music school. we have to fight and present practical alternatives. i think and hope one could find a solution which would expose, develop, proliferate and support high level art and music in the US “

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  2. From Gail Karrer (member of Restore the Arts Facebook group) “as we know, the reason why particularly european countries have such marvelous music, art, etc. still today is because they are funded by the government (orchestras, for example.) americans are often left out in the cold, abandoning really talented musicians, poets and composers, at the same time being one of the richest countries on earth. obviously our society doesn’t respect or value their artists as europeans do, and this is the result of a cultural decline due to the media. if restructuring oof existing models doesn’t work, new ways have to be found, and yes, using models from other countries is a great idea, although americans would have to let some of their ego go. we really aren’t the greatest in everything we do! what a pity that all the innate talent and genius that is in our population is lost! i once wanted to start a serious music and art academy in New Mexico, bringing masters from europe in order to show how important education in the arts is. think of all the billions of dollars that are being wasted on ridiculous and often evil projects. why isn’t some of this money being funneled into good art. even 1-2% of a city, state or federal budget would be enough to fund an orchestra or music school. we have to fight and present practical alternatives. i think and hope one could find a solution which would expose,develop, proliferate and support high level art and music in the us (sorry, fractured left shoulder, so cannot type well)

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