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February 19, 2011


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Great points sir -- I tried to point people over to the NEA site @ Kevin's blog, but granted, I didn't know too much as to how it operates. Thanks for that quick run-down.


I'm wondering where you got the numbers for San Francisco -- I used them to calculate the average salary for a full-time arts employee in S.F., and came up with an improbable result. $548 million in income divided by 27,837 employees = an average salary of $19,686 a year, or $9.46 an hour. Minimum wage in San Francisco is $9.92 an hour. I know arts jobs don't pay well, but this seems hard to believe!

Karl Miller

I think you can make a compelling pro-NEA argument, sans ephemera, by pointing out how the arts impact infrastructure. Artists are society's scavengers, they aerate the soil for urban renewal. They take risks, sometimes foolish, sometimes speculative, but their risk-taking leads them to the nasty parts of town where their efforts to survive and beautify their surroundings yield immense benefits (economic and intangible) for everyone. In DC, we point to 14th street NW and H Street NE.

Just as a dollar of government spending yields more economic activity than a dollar of tax-cuts, so does a dollar of arts subsidy yield more economic activity than a dollar of, say, ethanol subsidy. I know this is a colder, utilitarian way to look at it, but if these are the terms demanded by the opposition and potential allies ...

At the end of the day, when someone writes a letter to their congressperson protesting the NEA, they've spent their share of the NEA budget on the stamp they used to mail their rant. It's that pathetically low.

Oh, and if someone wants an example of a masterwork birthed by NEA $, they needn't look further than Angels in America, bitches.

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