My mailbox is being flooded with panicked messages from artists across the country. By executive order, the governor of Kansas has abolished the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC). The governor of Texas wants to defund that state’s arts agency, as does the governor of South Carolina. Republicans want to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. And arts advocates foresee a long row of dominoes waiting to fall when those go.
What does it mean?
From the official perspective, it’s framed as all about saving money: “Our state faces a nearly $500 million budget shortfall,” Kansas’ Republican governor Sam Brownback said. “Let’s do all we can to protect the core functions of government.” But Brownback neglected to mention that the numbers don’t quite add up: the KAC receives $778,200 in direct funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and $437,767 in indirect grants and services from Mid-America Arts Alliance, a regional funder, so the net effect of eliminating state funding would be a loss of several hundred thousand dollars coming into the state from other sources.
To some people, it’s a resurgence of anti-art feeling. As I wrote in December, people are now talking of new “culture wars,” harking back to the arts censorship campaigns of twenty years ago. They see this eliminationist fervor as driven by ideological opposition to public arts funding. They focus on the threat artistic freedom of expression represents to those who want to control the message. This is real, to be sure: in any setting, repression almost always starts with artists and intellectuals, who represent the refusal to submit. But this situation is not driven by ideology. As you will read below, it owes far more to politics than principle.
Certain arts advocates see it as an occasion for self-flagellation: to them, this proves we aren’t trying hard enough to make the case for arts funding. Earlier today, someone forwarded a tweet from the California Arts Council: “First Kansas, now Texas. We MUST make our case more clearly. The arts are not luxuries – they are vital.” Unfortunately, in practice, that almost always means redoubling efforts to make the same arguments that have been failing for three decades. There’s a desperate cargo-cult mentality that pervades arts advocacy, as I wrote back in 2006: it’s as if advocates believe that doing the exact same thing over and over again, with infinite patience and dedication, will eventually be rewarded with a gift from the gods. Actually, it just wastes time and money, keeping people too frightened and preoccupied to come up with a better strategy.
The national conversation about arts funding has grown stale and desperate. It needs fresh air and new light to peel away the familiar cover-stories and see what’s really happening. Three essential points need attention:
First, it’s not about the money. Consider the facts. For instance, last month, House Republicans proposed reducing the allocations for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to zero. That’s two separate agencies budgeted at $167.5 million apiece, for a total cost savings of $335 million.
Just to put that into perspective, the savings would amount to less than one-thousandth of a percent of the cost of just the war in Afghanistan since 2001, and less than one-millionth of a percent of the total FY 2011 federal budget. It’s less than one-twentieth of the FY 2011 budget for nuclear weapons, still being stockpiled at great costs to taxpayers, “just in case.” Putting the NEA/NEH money back into taxpayers’ pockets would give each of us about a dollar a year, half the cost of a plain Starbuck’s coffee, less than half the cost of a subway ride.
In truth, when politicians decide to decapitate arts funding, they aren’t even trying to make a significant economic impact. Instead, they are using budget cuts as a form of political speech by cutting something that most voters don’t perceive as directly affecting them or creating widespread pain. That is because, even though the dollars involved are insignificant enough to be dismissed as a rounding error in other budget areas, the cuts garner plenty of publicity: artists and their advocates are very good at communicating their displeasure. In essence, politicians use arts advocates as a megaphone to issue a political message: Look at the criticism I’m willing to take to save voters money! I lopped the head off all this unnecessary crap like art before even trimming the fat from the things you really care about! Money is the sizzle, not the steak.
Second, arts advocates undermine their cause when they respond to the cover-story as if it were the real story, focusing on dollars-and-cents arguments as if it were really about that. Decades have been wasted conducting the arts funding debate within the established frame. Mainstream advocacy groups have spent tons of time and money trumpeting the “economic multiplier effect,” for instance, in which every dollar spent on theater tickets generates more dollars on parking and restaurants, multiplying jobs and taxes. This is true, as far as it goes. But the arts have no special claim: the result is the same if you buy tickets to a bowling tournament or dog show.
The orthodoxy to which arts advocates pledge allegiance is that they will succeed by speaking the language of legislators and corporations. It boggles my mind how little that delusion is disrupted by reality. Look at the numbers. In constant dollars, the 1980 and 2009 NEA budgets were each $155 million. But the FY 2009 budget should have been more than $400 million just to equal the spending power of 1980. Now the prospect of elimination is very real. How long can people cling to a failed strategy?
Instead, every advocate should start with open eyes: refuse to pretend this debate is about money; explain how the arts are being used to send a political message. Drop the cover-stories, and tell it like it is.
Third, while all this timid dithering is going on, the largest, most important policy question is nearly dying of neglect. Who Americans are can be deduced from the way we spend our commonwealth. We may claim to be caring, to collectively value the most important things, but every single day, seven days a week, we spend a sum on war larger than the annual budgets of the NEA and NEH combined. We have the the highest incarceration rate in the world. The USA has 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated. Do you want to be a citizen of Incarceration Nation? Well, you are.
The most important policy question is this: Who are we as a people? How do we want history to remember us? What legacy do we wish to leave the next generation: our stupendous ability to punish, or our vast creativity?
In any society, some things are sustainable through markets alone, while other social goods will never turn a profit. Few of us would want to live in a world solely reliant on market success: can you imagine the untreated illness that would result from the withdrawal of public health programs? The stupendous ignorance that would result from the abandonment of public education? The level of homelessness that would result from putting an end to all housing subsidies? In relation to social goods, it is in the public interest to address marketplace imbalances through other interventions: public and private grants, regulations, tax exemptions, and so on.
Just as the United States has become the world’s biggest punisher, we have become its most anemic supporter of creativity. Expenditure levels have changed in the five years since the Canada Council for the Arts released a much quoted report entitled “Comparisons of Arts Funding in Selected Countries,” but the proportions are the same: leading European countries typically invest as much as fifty times more per capita in support of culture than the United States.
Making art is the essence of being human. We do it in marble palaces and grass huts. Even under the worst possible conditions, in SuperMax prisons and concentration camps, people save precious crumbs or scrape up mud to make sculptures. They scratch on prison walls with rocks or bits of charcoal. Herbert Zipper, the founding director of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, led a clandestine orchestra in Dachau. Our ancestors gathered around campfires, huddling against the darkness to share stories of the hunt, the trek, the storm and their meanings. Today we sit in massive multiplexes, warming ourselves by the light of much busier and more complicated stories. But underneath, we are the same. Making stories, images, songs and structures is as essential to us as breathing. And how we tell our stories shapes our lives.
Think about it, dear readers. The human drive to create and share beauty and meaning is so central to our existence that every day, around the globe, countless thousands risk life, liberty, or livelihood to express it.
Arts advocates have been trying to pour the vast personal and social importance of this essential human experience into containers—into language, slogans, arguments, strategies—far too small to hold it. Art’s essence is its ability to engage us fully in body, emotions, mind and spirit, to create beauty and meaning, to cultivate imaginative empathy, to disturb the peace, to enable grief in the face of loss and hope in the face of grief. Trying to explain or demonstrate this with numbers is like trying to describe a rainbow without mentioning color. It is ineffective, discouraging, and unworthy of who we really are to keep trying the same failed approach. And now it is plainer than ever that the failure is total and abject.
U.S. policymakers have made a very bad mistake in placing the work of artists in the category of frills and extras, rather than understanding how they function as social goods. Beauty and meaning lift our spirits, express our identities and aspirations, enable us to come to know and care for each other despite our differences. The hope of a sustainable society rests on our creativity—our capacity for imagination and empathy—and if we think it will flourish without nourishment, we are in for a world that more resembles “Grand Theft Auto” than a garden of earthly delights.
I am not a diehard arts agency advocate. I’ve written and spoken volumes of constructive criticism: most of these agencies channel a disproportionate amount of funding to largely white, red-carpet organizations, short-changing important work by artists of color, rural artists, women artists. Too many treat “the arts” like a cozy private club, airing a snobbery that repels people in droves. Too many pledge allegiance to absurd orthodoxies, using “the arts” to refer only to subsidized nonprofit organizations within the traditional arts disciplines, as if our massive consumer cultural industries and the vast web of informal arts participation weren’t even part of the cultural landscape.
There are caring, dedicated, capable people in all of these agencies, and most are running programs that have significant positive impact along with the ones that simply channel money to client groups. But I’m not interested in preserving funding for these agencies to perpetuate the way they’ve been doing business. I’m interested in seeing this crisis as an opportunity to rethink their approach, to throw off the old and now-discredited orthodoxies, and to begin treating their work like the lifeline for civil society and cultural citizenship—the sacred trust—it truly is.
Every day, in every corner of this country, nearly every life, nearly every waking hour, is saturated with music, stories, visual imagery, and conscious movement expressing the intrinsic nature and overwhelming resilience of human creativity. Culture is the secret of survival. Our task is to help people see that our collective well-being depends on recognizing the public interest in supporting artistic creativity, that with our future riding on the stories that shape us, we had better make a serious investment in our capacity to create and share stories.
As I travel around the country, I have been offering workshops on reframing the arts: how to change the frame, the deeply embedded story that makes “the arts” so expendable in so many people’s minds. Arts advocates’ thinking needs to expand, creating new frames—new containers—that are big and strong enough to convey the real and awesome power of human creative expression. This requires discarding the old frames that constrain thinking; and that has to start with abandoning the old gentlemen’s agreement to treat the passion for cutting arts funding as all about the benjamins. The time has come to speak truth to those with entrenched power and to ordinary citizens, those who put them in office and have the power to replace them.
It is so easy to allow our minds to be colonized by convention, so that—by degrees—our thinking becomes imprisoned in a cage of orthodoxy: we no longer see what is, but only what others say it is. I’ve been listening to Nick Cave the last few days. He has a way of cutting through the noise. Listen to “Nature Boy” as you practice letting go of orthodoxies you no longer need:
I was just a boy when I sat down
To watch the news on TV
I saw some ordinary slaughter
I saw some routine atrocity
My father said, don’t look away
You got to be strong, you got to be bold, now
He said, that in the end it is beauty
That is going to save the world, now
Yes, we will need to seize this moment as an opportunity for rethinking and reframing. How can we more effectively articulate the public value of the arts, of education, and even our most basic social programs, in a world where even our current president is preaching Reagan-era rhetoric of small government and big business? Challenging — but hopefully fruitful — times ahead.
Add one more: Washington State is also facing zero funding for its arts commission.
Totally brilliant and inspiring analysis, Arlene. And the Nick Cave poem (why not?) at the end condenses like art aughta. Thank you!
Thanks so much, all. Sometimes something just really needs to be said. So happy it resonates!
Ah, thank you so much for this as we struggle to name and preserve what keeps our hearts beating here in Kansas.
Yes, really wonderful analysis. The $600K budget of the Kansas Commission was a pittance as it was — it’s not about the money. Whenever we spend our resources, it’s always a reflection of our true values.
Just wondering – why do we need public funding at all? Could artists find new ways to fund projects from private donors? Could a new framework for the creation of artworks funded by gathering money from various consortiums of businesses and non government agencies be a way forward? It seems as if it might be worth questioning why we rely on the government at all, when it seems that their agenda is often to attack the arts rather than support it.
We need public funding to make up the shortcomings of private funding: private patrons tend to want to control content (there’s more private-sector censorship than public, for instance). Private funders tend to want positive publicity, so are less likely to support risky work, work grounded in communities of color or other locations that don’t seem like advertising venues. The commercial cultural industries favor what can make money on a mass scale. The public sector can pursue other goals: celebrating community, making room for marginalized voices, putting artists to work in national recovery, etc. All sectors are imperfect; all include those who favor cultural equity and those who oppose; all motives are mixed. It’s a diverse funding landscape, and removing government would make it far less so. We need them all.
The Arts and Humanities are still concentrated in large urban areas where certainly there is more competition for the Arts dollar. But under-served areas don’t function the same way. We perform in the under-served areas of Texas,New Mexico and Arkansas where we are a real event happening. People talk for days before and after our performance. Our biggest competition is still the television and probably now the computer. But when, as an artist, we have a sixty year old gentleman sobbing during the performance, I am assured as to why I am an artist doing what I do. That gentleman was able to get in touch with his feelings in such a way that the performance was essential in allowing it to happen. This happens repeatedly in our presentations. We function principally with grant money so our program is offered free to the public. No more money comes out of their pocket. The venue gets a quality program for their public that each grant dollar is matched with, dollar for dollar.
This hit home in a BIG way. I will share this with as many people and organizations as I can. It makes sense on so many levels and really helps one see ‘what headway we have NOT made’ and why we need to change tactics. Thank you so much.
great article, thank you. Here is what is going on in Vt and reponse:
Wow! Good luck, John! Keep me posted, please.
This is one of the most thoughtful, thought-provoking and inspiring commentaries on this issue that I’ve ever read; thank you. I think there’s another, perhaps foundational, problem that fits into your analysis and may raise some further possibilities for solving the dilemma: namely, the fact that these cuts are being announced and enforced by the statehouses and in congress. As we all know, only a tiny portion of the eligible voting population votes in those races or follows them closely: midterm election turnouts only rarely approach even 60%, and off-year elections rarely make it past the 40% mark.
In other words, these eliminationist positions are being promulgated by individuals whom most of the vote-eligible populace did not vote for. If arts-conscious voters approach representative government as if the chief executive determined arts policy, it’s awkward for them to wonder when the arts become the fiscal scapegoats for other misguided economic policies.
What that suggests is that those of us who know the fallacies of these positions can do something to improve awareness by helping to get out the vote in midterm and off-year elections — the elections in which most of the public officials who’re making these (IMO misguided) policies are elected.
And that, in turn, suggests another idea that I’m familiar with from history as it pertains to Classical music — namely, for Classical musicians to organize and give benefit programs for the benefit not (just) of themselves, but for social causes. From the rise of the public concert in the late 18th century until the 1920s, every time a musician or orchestra visited a city s/he or they would give a concert for the benefit of, say, the victims of a recent flood, or an earthquake, or a violent political upheaval, etc. They also did this in their own cities. Consequently, the public did not consider Classical musicians — in this proposition standing in for artists generally — as being elitist individuals who deemed themselves arbiters of societal values while failing to actually engage with the problems and concerns of the “real world.” Instead, those artists’ publics understood them as fellow citizens, engaged, concerned, and willing to contribute their art for causes that benefited things other than their art. And those publics in turn supported those artists, believed in their work, and tried to understand it. Think of it as a High-Art version of “Farm Aid” or “Live 8.” (It also works at a deeper level: the causes that artists supported made statements about them and their personal and social values.)
So why not have a Classical “Get Out the Vote” recitals, concerts, and exhibits?
I know it’s expensive and the money has to come from somewhere — but we as artists and art-lovers can’t expect to achieve lasting success in arguing for sustained and enthusiastic public support for the arts if we demand that others cover costs that we’re unwilling to even try to support ourselves.
That’s just one idea — but it springs largely from your (Arlene’s) lucid portrayal of what really is and is not being said as this disheartening battle drags on like another one of our tragic wars.
Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts
Thank you, Michael. I really appreciate the value of envisaging steps that can be taken now, an applaud you for doing that.
For me, there’s an underlying issue when it comes to electoral politics. Right now, cultural policy is a trivial matter to most U.S. politicians. They won’t risk anything to support artists or cultural development, because they don’t see it as worth political capital (e.g., I’ve been advocating a new WPA for quite a while, and it’s been just about impossible to get any elected official to say that would be a good idea). Conversely, few voters will let a candidate’s position on culture be determinative: even most artists will choose other issues (war and peace, the economy, gay rights, etc.) to guide their voting. So my (admittedly grandiose) project is to help change the frame for the arts and culture, so that people see these things as social goods, and understand what is to be gained by supporting them (such as capacity for imagination and empathy, so key to survival and resilience). Making them more important—raising their profile to match their real importance, in other words—seems a prerequisite to any effective electoral strategy.
In classical music, the tradition you describe is one half of a dialectic. The other half is Henry Higginson’s exhortation to Boston plutocrats to subscribe to that city’s newly created orchestra: “Educate and save our selves and our fortunes from the mob.” I entirely agree that balance is needed in the form of musicians and other artists acting on their citizenship.
I will address many of these issues on 8 March in Austin. My keynote for the APASO conference will be open to the public, so please come if you want to engage more with these ideas.
This was one of the most cogent analyses of the arts funding debate I’ve ever read. I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said, but I’d like to expand on a few of your ideas, if I may.
1. No, it’s not really about the funding…
… but I actually think some of the politicians believe it is. They love repeating those phrases of “saving the tax payers MILLIONS,” and most of the tax payers love hearing it. We’ve learned from so many administrations (most recently Bush 2) that if it’s repeated enough, a catch phrase becomes reality. The concept of proportion of arts funding to other government funding (federal or state) gets lost in competition with the absolute numbers. This a communications problem, one that I think many artists and arts administrators could produced creative campaigns for. (I’m thinking cool interactive graphics, or satirical guerilla theatre, etc.) We’re definitely losing the sound-byte war.
2. I appreciate your skepticism of arts agencies and their reinforcement of conservative institutions, and your advocacy for a new WPA (where are the 21st Century’s Harry Hopkins and Hallie Flanagan?!). I learned a tremendous lesson about policy making a few months ago, courtesy of the US DOE: politicians are reactive, and are rarely proactive. Some foundations or independent billionaires may fund an idea because it’s centered in values and core ideals, but politicians have to wait until an “emergence” erupts, and then have some sort of data (albeit of questionable validity frequently) to develop their new programs. I’m thinking of all the different rhetoric surrounding No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. I believe the good fight must be fought on all levels, from all directions, but might we be expecting too much from our elected officials to actually be leaders in developing respect and appreciation for the social, cultural, educational and psychological power of the arts (ignoring of course the “reprehensible” concept of spiritual power of the arts)? Sure, as human beings, they have the capacity to understand that everyone benefits from the arts, but I don’t think most of them understand how to translate that into a funding line as essential as the DOD or the IRS.
Thanks for you dedication and commitment.
Thanks so much, Phil.
I agree with both points. I’ve been doing the reframing workshops I mentioned, and other interactive sessions with arts people, as a way to generate the images, metaphors, resonant stories that can expand our ability to communicate this message, so our impact is proportional to the major task at hand. On your second point, yes, politicians tend not to initiate (and certainly not to innovate) as much as respond. I think the fulcrum now is public opinion, so that enlarging the general sense of art’s power, public purpose, and necessary role in cultivating empathy and imagination—these are formidable tasks, but necessary prerequisites to creating the conditions that will compel politicians to respond. If we can actually lead, they may follow.
[…] Goldbard argues passionately for a new approach to advocacy and messaging about the […]
One more vote of thanks for this article. I thought you’d like this clip of our very own (yes we claim her!) KT Walsh in front of the Kansas State House on Feb 10, 2011.
But getting back to your analysis, I think you are right about arts funding being a signal of our values as a society. You’ve got me wondering about the next level down: If all of us felt confident that we could make at least a basic living doing what we can do well, then there would not need to be funding specifically for the arts. That is, if the well-being of each citizen became more important, and the extraction & concentration of wealth became less, then there would be much more freedom to produce art, and other things that are not so readily converted to cash. I know this is hopeless utopianism, and sounds like a welfare state to boot, but I am reminded of the people I know who are (slightly more) able to make art because of food stamps.
I am also reminded of this post by Antonio Dias:
Nice to hear from you Eric, and to see KT in fine form. I’ll shortly post a follow-up essay about responses to the situation, and you point to one of them: something like a guaranteed annual wage, an alternative model to dedicated grants. Actually, Nixon advocated it, so you can sound like a Republican instead of a utopian if you want.
I appreciate your insightful post. The question I have been pondering is, “Can we artists show a clear link between availability of the arts at all levels in society and the ability of business/industry to innovate and lead creatively?” A related question I keep asking is, “Why is there no outcry from “big business” about the trashing of support for the arts — both societal art and arts education or arts in education?” When I read business posts about creativity and innovation, they often seem to actively be separating themselves from the arts ie “creative problem solving has nothing to do with the arts” or “technical creativity and artistic creativity are completely unrelated” or they simply ignore the arts as irrelevant. And yet I feel very strongly that what I do as a performing and teaching artist is contributing to the pool of creative thinking skills in society (skills that businesses say they desperately need to compete). Furthermore as a business owner, I feel that even the local touring shows which come through town benefit me and my business–whether I can afford the tickets or not–by surrounding me with creative thinkers who choose to live in my small Kentucky town because it has so many cultural opportunities.
Is there indeed a connection between societal art and business innovation? Are businesses making that connection? (Maybe I’ve missed something somewhere.) What can we be doing as artists to help businesses make that connection? Are Republicans really representing the interests of big business when they slash public arts and arts education funding? Can businesses afford to stay long-term in a state/city that doesn’t encourage the arts? If not, could they kindly mention that to the governor of Kansas?
Theatre Artist and Director of TheatrEXpands
Many thanks, Susan. You are so right about the value of arts work to creativity and innovation. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. On this page of my Website, if you download the “Courage to Create” brochure, you’ll read a very brief take on that, and if you’re interested, I’ll send you a longer concept paper that lays a lot of it out. Just click the “contact” tab and email me if you’re interested in reading it.
I’m excited to have read this post and wanted to let you know Susan, that you are likely hearing from “biz leaders” a bit further down the totem pole, or to be more fair, from the wrong silo. Marketing folks and entrepreneurs in the sciences–primarily inventors–are very focused on creativity and most are coming around to the arts. In fact Seth Godin, marketing deity, calls all work done with passion and love “art.” He also routinely insists that people who “ship,” people who complete their work, live their dream always have a passion for self expression and are not afraid to develop and use it. Finally, “No Right Brain Left Behind” is an open call competition to creative firms to “hack” education by designing ways to instruct creativity. http://rightbrainsare.us The competition just closed.
Even the Jet Propulsion Lab has an artist on site and has developed a musical for kids to learn the science of the solar system.
All that said, I agree that cutting the arts is a political move not based in money, but it is a strategic move meant to cut the heart out of social movements a few generations away. The momentum that now President Obama was able to achieve is due in large part to the efforts of artists working in various platforms. Will.i.am, Shepard Fairey, Tina Fey are a few of the big name artists whose work dramatically invigorated sections of the electorate that normally does not bother to vote. At the grass roots level, especially in the black community, artists created work to replace clunky Democratic Party messaging. My favorite were group social dances and DJ chants created to specific songs to symbolically give power to favorite attributes of Obama. Were arts access severely limited now, assuming that humans would stop being human (I love how you point this out Arlene), the gamble would be that the Left would have no tool with which to respond to draconian reductions in government because people would not have the training to make art for the social good.
It is time to do a bit more than letter writing to get that Secretary of Arts in place. Though the entire system of governance is antiquated and no longer responsive to our needs as people living in the 21st century, if we are going to continue to convince ourselves that a two-party kinda-sorta democratic system works, then we need a cabinet position for the Arts to interface with other departments about generating/modeling innovation at the national level.
Thanks for a great question Susan, and a fantastic article, Arlene.
[…] statement has not yet been actualized). This leaves many of us in the blogosphere, most notably Arlene Goldbard and Ian David Moss, pondering the role of state arts agencies. My own ideas in this regard are […]
[…] My last essay, exploring deeper meanings of the current threats to defund public arts agencies, elicited a great deal of comment. The bulk of it came from people who, like me, perceive the stuckness of mainstream arts advocacy and are seeking alternatives. […]
We are of the same mind. The way that the “ARTS” are framed in this country must be changed, especially form the point of view of the advocates. It was nice to come across this diary On DKos. I was thinking about a diary I had written (at this point 2 years ago)- (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/02/15/697663/-The-Arts-Where-do-we-stand) – concerning the same issue and was depressed to realize I felt that we had digressed so much at this point as a nation that it would make no sense to bring these issues up let alone try to improve the situation. I hope to push this issue a bit more in the near future. As I am a practicing artist, the work needs to take precedence, though. Anyway, I just wanted to write and say that this piece is inspiring. I was re-reading the piece I wrote and was surprised to find that the discussion generated was actually pretty positive. I had kind-of given up hope of revisiting, maybe rekindling that discussion. Reading your piece has given me back that hope …… thanks for that.
Thanks, Michael. I’ll take a look at your piece. Just posting part three of this series now. all best, Arlene
[…] “Life Implicates Art,” an essay about how to re-think arts advocacy by Arlene Goldbard […]
What a relief to find such thoughtful discourse on this issues. I’ve been presenting a program for the last 12 years with funding from Humanities Councils in several states. The program, a multi-media presentation about an historical subject utilizes live music and storytelling with video, Q&A and as such, circumvents the usual humanities grant restriction on funding performance. The program never fit well into Arts Council programs since its emphasis isn’t on performance, a fact for which I’m grateful right now. I’ve had the privilege of going to under-served areas and stirring up discourse on a social issue with historical context. Now more than ever! So. Do you think NEH funding is less subject to cuts and if so, why? Is there hope for artists to “retool” and become eligible for this kind of funding?
Thanks so much, Alison. I really do think there’s hope and opportunity here, but people need to kick the habit of repeating the things that haven’t worked in the past. My guess is that humanities funding is a little safer, because universities are the main client groups (so to speak), and they have some fairly powerful lobbies. But then there’s a pretty well ingrained habit of treating NEA/NEH like one word. Good luck to you; your program sounds great.
[…] Lex Leifheit .@iamdanmckinley stepping in as volunteer to manage the crowds @feastofwords tonight! Nice item in @sfweekly. Yay today. http://ow.ly/462Yr Observations The Evolution of Private Label: Is Your Programming Incandescent? In the shadow of federal funding cuts there has been a spike in online dialogue about how we communicate the value of the arts, including some excellent essays by Howard Sherman and Arlene Goldbard. […]
[…] economics don’t add up. Nor should they, according to Arlene Goldbard’s urging that we “start with open eyes: refuse to pretend this debate is about money; explain how the […]
[…] economics don’t add up. Nor should they, according to Arlene Goldbard’s urging that we “start with open eyes: refuse to pretend this debate is about money; explain how the […]