Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What is WRONG with people?

Arts bashing. I am furious.

In fact, there are very few things in this world that make me more furious than when members or our Federal Government (or anyone, for that matter) look at the Arts as "just" a luxury, instead of as an industry that is capable of creating jobs. The Arts, if funded properly, could not only create jobs, but also could give this country something about which to be extremely proud. Instead, we allow the Arts to remain seriously underfunded. Let me say that again: WE allow the Arts to remain seriously underfunded. WE do it to ourselves - by the way we vote in our elections and by the fact that we don't stand up to those who bring the ax down on any bill that comes close to funding anything Arts related.

Has anyone stopped to ask themselves what this country's artistic landscape would look like if we subsidized the Arts one half as much as we subsidize the Oil Industry? Think about it.

Where is the national media? Why has no one said anything about the fact that those of us out-of-work artists are suffering just as much as out-of-work people from the Homebuilding Industry? God forbid you are a member of both groups at the same time - as I was (I had a day job in homebuilding for 5 years until I was laid off last year). Then, you get a double whammy .

When Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, stated “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act [the stimulus bill] may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.”, why on earth didn't anyone add "shooting range, race track or RV Park?" And, let us not forget that Sen. Coburn's daughter is, herself, an Opera Singer.

Scott Lilly noted in his fantastic piece for the Center for American Progress:
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) was typical of the opponents to the stimulus legislation who seized on the arts to discredit the overall package; he told the House chamber, “It included wasteful government spending that has nothing to do with creating jobs. 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?” Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) was even more emphatic, saying, “We have real people out of work right now and putting $50 million in the NEA and pretending that’s going to save jobs as opposed to putting $50 million in a road project is disingenuous.”
I urge you to take some time and read Lilly's article. Then, find out how to contact your State and Federal Representatives and let them know how angry you are that the Arts are, again, being bashed in this country.

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