To listen to the broad spectrum of people, there either is way too much government involvement in arts funding or nowhere near enough. James Allen Smith of the Getty Trust has a few thoughts on the subject.
The starving artist is a myth. Underfunded, underemployed, less well paid than others of similar education but not impoverished.
The lack of a government commitment to culture is also a myth. NEA and NEH appropriations are a fraction of what they were at their peak, but we do ourselves a disservice by ignoring the many other commitments to culture that the federal government has made and kept and that states and localities have expanded over the past two decades, even in the face of federal contraction. In our multilayered federal system the public sector commitment is fragmented and hard to appraise completely, but there is indeed a commitment, and it is substantial. Some argue that it remains stronger and more secure because it is fragmented, because there is not a single target for budget cutters to strike. We should also understand that some of our approaches are envied in other parts of the world, particularly the strong role played by private philanthropy. Sustaining and encouraging private philanthropy through the tax code has been a consistent policy choice since the 1910s.
For some of my readers who are into the more popular music genres (like rock, rap, metal, country, etc.), this is a non-issue. The marketplace will more than bear a plethora of bands. Some of the less popular art forms (like jazz, world, classical just to name three) have serious trouble scratching by without some assistance from large organizations. I consider myself fortunate to live in the DC area -- which has one of the stronger jazz communities in the nation -- and I'm well aware that not everyone has it quite this good.
Thanks to Andrew for the tip.Posted by Casper at May 27, 2004 12:12 AM