From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Full audio here.

Art, of course, can transcend politics, as well as current social and intellectual trends.  What is good art…and bad…the truths found there…and whether or not artists transcend the deepest ideas that often drive them are matters of deep debate.

A different matter of debate, however, is whether or not the National Endowment For The Arts should receive fiscal stimulus money because it can potentially stimulate the economy.

OF course, those with self-interest in the matter think so, and the report (this is NPR, with its own fish to fry) focuses on them.  They also focus briefly on Brian Riedl, budget analyst at the Heritage foundation who sees no merit to the claim.


Of course, the artists could seek patrons (especially difficult in a tough economy), or use gimmicks to get people in the door (as common in Shakespeare’s day as it is now) or make a populist appeal directly to the people whose lives they can enrich without taking their tax dollars (these are difficult times for all).

Another question might be:  in what way do those making the appeal serve what good artists must transcend to provide them with a livelihood?

Also On This Site:  We’re already mixing art and politics, so…How Would Obama Respond To Milton Friedman’s Four Ways To Spend Money?

2 thoughts on “From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

  1. Dear NPR:

    The arguments for funding the arts in yesterday’s program were very weak. Dollar for dollar, the arts create a myriad of public services and benefits that other monies spent do not. For example, in terms of revitalization of inner cities, artists make neighborhoods better than any cookie cutter developer could do, and for a miniscule fraction. People in the arts also talk to people in other industries, often creating new materials that influence engineers, architects and fabricators. They create places for tourists to go, shops to open, and cutting edge playgrounds to sprout out of former dumping grounds. All for far less than any other sector. It may be a bigger bang for our bucks than anything else in the budget. Creative people have a natural and generative urge to work for their communities. They create environments that are custom fit for our changing times and idiosyncratic neighborhoods, often identifying what is essential and unique about the community to begin with. They are scanners, visionaries and makers of the stuff that make a community a community, a city a city, and a country a country. Let’s give them the chance that they deserve and while we are at it, the amazing chance for the rest of us to look forward to more vibrant environments.

  2. Doris,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m not NPR though I agree that was a fluffy piece.

    Without much doubt those with an interest in the arts can make neighborhoods better places to live through…however:

    1. In this case its about federal tax dollars, so an important question of freedom is raised. A guy who works a steady job and who lives in a rough neighborhood has no choice in giving his money to an arts council’s vision of what would be better for the neighborhood through his taxes(and an arts council which would have to jump through top down, bureaucratic hoops for its funding). “Creativity” is a poor measure for policy, and would likely lead to negative long-term effects in creating the freedom for people to be creative in the first place.

    2. Every working artist is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to finding the time and money to pursue the fine arts and develop their talents. I see the benefits of the arts as unquantifiable in terms of “community,” because it’s those very same communities the artist transcends if he’s any good (federally funded, socialist or free-market or not…)

    This one mostly seems like a political question.

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