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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


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 grass-

roots 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.

Government Funding for the Arts

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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