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Essay/Term paper: Government funding for the arts

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities Essays

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Government Funding for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts is a government sponsored foundation.
The duty of the National Endowment for the Arts is to foster the growth of the
arts evenly through the national, state, and local levels of the country. With
all of the budget slashing that is now taking place the arts is the first place
that people look to take money from. This not only happens on the national
level but also in our schools. Many people don't see the arts as important.
It is the most important thing that our society has.

Art, in each and every form that it comes in, shows us who we are. Our
pictures that we paint, our songs which we compose, our theater for which we
write, act, and dance for, our buildings which we design, as a whole, explains
our culture. Future historians will look back at these things and judge us by
our accomplishments in these areas. When we look back in history, we recall it
through the greatest past achievements in art: the Sistine Chapel, the great
pyramids of Egypt, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and the works of Plato.
Shouldn't we be able to show feats just as grand?

Most Americans do agree with me. In 1992, a study called the "Americans
and the Arts VI" was conducted; it ended with these results:

* 60% of the people support the federal support of the arts.
* 63% of the people support the state's support of the arts.
* 84% of the people regard art as a reflection of life and
times of a nation.
* 75% of the people think that the government can be helpful to
artists in funding their work and in helping them gain recognition.
* 69% of the people would raise their taxes $5 a year if it were to
go to the arts.
* 64% a $10 increase and 56% a $15 increase.
* 90% of the people feel that the arts should be a regular part of a
child's education.
* 54% of the people would cut spending on school sports programs
before the arts programs (Philp 5).

Another survey shows that 73% of the population would favor arts support even
during a recession (O'Steen 229).

In 1965, when the National Endowment for the Arts was brought into being,
President Lyndon B. Johnson said, "Art is a nation's most precious heritage.
For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the
inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the
people perish" (Philp 5). The National Endowment for the Arts, returns its
money from the people, back to the people. Many of the organizations and people
supported by govern-ment grants might otherwise be bankrupt and out on the
streets. The government's arts endowments to the NEA in 1995 was a measly $167
million and was barely helped by the $56.4 increase to all arts foundations
(Grimes C19).

With a still majority of Republicans in Congress, the outlook of the NEA
and other nationally funded arts agencies is bleak. The House Budget Committee
is chaired by John Kasich (R-Ohio) who co-authored the Penny-Kasich Amendment
which calls for a ten percent cut in support for the NEA, the National
Endowments for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum Services, the
Smithsonian Institute, the National Gallery of Art, and the Corporation for
Public Broadcasting (Janowitz 56). Dick Armey (R-Tex), the National House
Speaker, says, "My own view of the matter is [that] the NEA offends the
Constitution of the United States. My own view is [that] there is no
constitutional authority for this agency to exist" (Janowitz 56). The only hope
is with President Bill Clinton (D-Ark). Mr. Clinton calls for small increases
in some of the arts foundations. He also assigned three goals to the
President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, which he revived:

* to increase public understanding of the arts and the humanities
and build grassroots support for them;
* to identify new sources of funds, especially from individuals,
foundations, and corporations; and
* to use public meetings and publications to address urgent issues
in the nation's cultural life (Brademas 804).

The NEA and other government sponsored foundations are essential organs
to the life of us as a society, nation, culture, and civilization. With the
destruction of these agencies, the government is destroying our ability to show
our inner vision.

Works Cited

Brademas, John. "Valuing Ideas and Culture" Phi Delta Kappan. June
1995 v76 n10 p804(3).

Grimes, William. The New York Times. May 1, 1996 v145 pC19.

Janowitz, Barbara. "Is the NEA's Number Up?" American Theatre. Feb.
1995 v12 n2 p56(2).

O'Steen, Kathleen. Variety. Feb. 22, 1993 v350 n4 p229(1).

Philp, Richard. "The True Mandate: Fund the Arts" Dance Magazine. Jan.
1995 v69 n1 p5(1).


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