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.