Welfare for artists

Welfare for artists

What’s wrong with this story? some boston city councilors want to bring in revenue by creating another specialty license plate. Okay, if you’re dumb enough to hand the government more of your hard-earned money so you can have a vanity plate, that’s your prerogative. But here’s where I scratch my head:

“This is the ultimate bumper sticker,” said Beacon Hill Councilor Michael P. Ross. “We have this great opportunity to bring in money.”

Ross, an art lover, has been looking for a specialized revenue stream for the city since he gained the chairmanship of the council’s budget-reviewing Ways and Means Committee two years ago. “Arts is a consistently underfunded area in government,” said Ross. “We really need to find a dedicated revenue source.”[Emphasis added]

Since when is funding art a function of government? Or better yet, why should the funding of art be a function of government anymore? I can understand the funding of art appreciation in schools and perhaps even the placement of art in public places (although I would rather private donations be raised to buy that art), but the government should not be in the business of providing money to artists.

There was a time when art was supported for its own sake, by patrons who appreciated the work of the artists. Of course, that was when art made sense and had an aesthetic of beauty. Now some guy can fling elephant dung on a painting of the Blessed Mother and call it art. I think what I will call government welfare for art has created a space for “stupid art” in our society. I’m no art critics, I don’t have a Fine Arts degree. But I know good art when I see it, and a lot of the stuff being peddled out there now isn’t good art.

Much of it is nihilistic and deconstructionist and post-modern and emblematic of the completely secularized and materialist view of the world that grips the so-called cultural elites. So, no thanks to government funding of art. Let them seek patrons for their work. And may the marketplace allow a return to good art.

  • “Work for grants?” Give me a break.

    By the way, which article of the Constitution contains the provision for the government to provide for arts education? I found t he one for providing for the common defense. And I dare you to show me any state constitution of city charter that states that a purpose of that government is to support the arts.

    There was a time when art was supported by private patrons and the Church, but of course the days when art was made for the glory of God are long gone.

  • Nice way to compare apples and oranges. Isuggest you get a little civic education. Interstate highways, eviro protestion, and space exploration fall under the regulation of interstate commerce, international commerce, and common defense. I’ll leave it to you to figure which go with which and why.

    I agree that funding sports stadiums should not be part of government spending. Rebuilding Iraq is part of defense and international commerce.

    Boeing and GE are contracted to provide services for the government—airplanes, engines, power plants—in order for it to carry out its legitimate functions. They aren’t handouts; it is just pay for goods and services. Art does not provide a similar service and is thus a handout.

    Art is subjective. A democratic government cannot distinguish between good art and bad art so funding is up to the whims of the current bureaucrat in charge of funding. The government funding system is not conducive to producing good art.

  • I consider the “work” produced by most artists on the government payroll to be equivalent to the work produced by welfare-to-work programs: It’s not strictly needed or necessary, but it makes it look like an equal exchange has happened. Working for a grant is an oxymoron. One works for pay or with a contract. A grant is just that: money with no necessity to produce something good, viable or necessary.

    Halliburton is the largest and most skilled oil services in the world, whether Dick Cheney once worked with them or not. Plenty of companies get no-bid contracts from the government, but the only reason anyone makes a stink about Halliburton is because they can make a link to Cheney.

    I think funding for the arts should be a private concern. Let the people decide, but not through the government—through their own wallets, directly. What could be more democratic?

  • Not distrust of arts. I just don’t see it as a government function. Period. Government isn’t there to take care of every human need and desire or provide every good. I don’t know what Halliburton has to do with nukes, you lost me there.

    The common defense is a government function, and I don’t make a special case for nukes. They’re just very big bombs. It’s all in how they’re used.

    And you obviously have a distrust of businesses connected to Republicans so that’s not worth discussing.