I don't want to sound too comfortable swilling moonshine from my clay jug, but a press release announcing stimulus funds going toward the arts makes me feel a touch queasy:
Underscoring this sentiment, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocates $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts. As arts organizations are threatened by declines in donations, the stimulus money will provide grants to fund projects that keep jobs in the nonprofit arts sector. Some 40 percent of the money will be distributed to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations, and 60 percent will be in competitive grants.
I DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR AMAZING PRODUCTION OF SWAN LAKE ENOUGH TO FORCE POOR PEOPLE TO FUND IT.
The argument goes that we all ought to recognize "the value arts and culture bring to a number of policy goals from economic development and rural and urban revitalization, to education reform and youth development."
And yet all of those are in peril because the status quo is about to change: "...States invest $343 million in state arts agencies, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Now as states tighten budgets and cut back spending, arts organizations can suffer."
Want to know why? Because that money gets taken from people and put into the arts agencies. If you want to spur an economy, you let the people use their money to build businesses. You don't hand it to a group of thespians working on interactive social justice theater.
And I'd link the press release, but it's still not up on their website despite the clear and present danger of losing really good opera.