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February 09, 2009


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Last week the CEO of the James Irvine Foundation made the case for supporting the arts in the SF Chronicle. Read it online here http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/03/EDQP15LUJN.DTL&hw=canales&sn=001&sc=1000

Thanks, Isaac, for raising the issue. Do you know where can I find that government study?

Scott Walters

Here is the key sentence: "As I asked on this floor last week, what does $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts have to do with creating jobs in Indiana?” There are TWO theatres in Indiana listed, both in Indianapolis, which is not in Pence's district. He rightly sees this money as likely to go to a few major metropolises. This is an illustration of the connection between artistic centralization and weak support of the NEA.


Eh. Cities will get a bigger chunk to be sure, but it would be very easy to administrate it so that it doesn't all end up in New York. That's no reason to slight a nationwide industry.

At the end of the day this is about a perception of the arts as frou frou and undeserving, and probably a bygone perception of the NEA supporting individuals, like the NEA 5. The fact is that the arts are businesses who employ a very wide range of people, most of whom are actually non-artistic (i.e. janitors, security, admins) and when they close they make the non-froufrous as unemployed as the froufrous. Not good.

Soho the Dog has a terrific post on this matter. A sample:

"Now, it's not hard to find assertions that the arts shouldn't be part of a stimulus, because, unlike manufacturing jobs, jobs in the arts don't produce anything concrete. First of all: have you ever tried to move a piano? Second of all: in this economy? Doesn't matter. For over a century, the engine of economic health has been consumption, not production. The economy hums when people are spending money, and frankly, the economy doesn't care where that money comes from. The idea that the hundred bucks I get for a few hours of accompanying has less spending power than the hundred bucks a factory worker gets for a few hours of assembling widgets is economically preposterous. If your house is on fire, you don't worry about whether firemen are using filtered water or not."

RTWT: http://sohothedog.blogspot.com/2009/02/they-shop-around-follow-you-without.html


Since there is ample research and documentation, and economists and planners all agree, that the arts do have significant positive economic impact, both short term and long . So, what does this tell us? That in some corners, the argument still works that the arts are irrelevant, self-serving, elite, suspect, and somehow not part of the mainstream culture. If this argument weren't working in their corners, bozos like Pence and Kingston wouldn't make it.

We need to change the culture of how the arts, artists and those who support them are perceived.


I gave the hearts and minds on Huff' my best shot in the comments here:


I'm out to convince anyone, anywhere, one at a time.

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