Monday, January 12, 2009

The Arts Under Obama: A Brainstorming Session

What does "increased support for the arts" from the Federal Government mean to you?

I ask because, in reading through the few comments at the end of this Art Newspaper article on all the hopes being projected on to President-Elect Obama's administration and his awareness and commitment to promoting the arts in America, it dawned on me that people have some very different ideas about what that means. I know that's a central complaint among Obama skeptics, that he makes beautiful but vague promises that he most surely will not be able to deliver on, but I sincerely think the only folks who see that as a serious problem are those who don't understand their obligation to participate in supporting him in such efforts.

Here's the gist of the article:
In November, during his first interview after winning the election on NBC’s weekly news programme “Meet the Press”, host Tom Brokaw asked Mr Obama what kind of cultural and artistic changes he would make as president. “Our art and our culture…that’s the essence of what makes America special, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House,” said Mr Obama. He has announced a three-person advisory team dedicated to reviewing the two main agencies responsible for providing government grants to arts and culture projects, the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). [...]

But some groups think Mr Obama can do more. A coalition of arts organisations, including the American Association of Museums, Americans for the Arts, the Association of Art Museum Directors, and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, among others, submitted a report to Obama’s office recommending further measures to improve government support of the arts. Among the suggestions—such as increasing the NEA’s annual budget to $319.2m, expanding international cultural exchange, and reinstating an arts curriculum in schools—is the important idea of appointing a senior-level official in the White House that would be responsible for overseeing the administration’s entire arts and cultural policy.
One of the comments in the post questions whether the sense that the Bush administration ignored the arts was actually true. I too recall reading that Bush had increased funding for the NEA (what didn't he increase funding for?), so I'm not sure that's a fair call, but a more overt and public support would have unquestionably been preferable in terms of rallying public opinion to help save arts programs in schools and increase a shared national sense of pride in our arts.

But there's only one week left in that administration (and all I want to know of Bush is when he's going on trial for war crimes), so let's look to the future. Clearly if the country is going to turn itself around, it's going to fall to all of us, not just the President-Elect, to do that heavy lifting, and so having read that the way Obama operates is to seriously listen to the opinions of those in the know and then make his decisions, why don't we (in our way) help him out? What would "more support" for the arts look like to you?

Related: For an ongoing record of how folks in the arts are supporting and/or responding to Obama, check out The Obama Art Report.

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41 Comments:

Blogger Bill said...

Ed,
You may or may not recognize me, but I'm a regular follower of your excellent blog. This comment doesn't need to be shown on your blog.

This morning I received an email with this link http://www.PetitionOnline.com/esnyc/ where you can add your signature to a letter to President-Elect Obama, encouraging him to appoint a "Secretary of the Arts". I think this is a great idea, and long overdue. I thought you might be interested, and if you found it worthy, maybe you would mention it on your blog, which has the capacity to reach so many people involved in the arts. If it's something you've already covered - "Never Mind."

Best Regards,
Bill

1/12/2009 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Garance said...

France has a 1% cutural for all public works, meaning that if you make a highroad or a bridge, one percent goes to culture (could be gardens, sculptures, archeology, buying paintings etc). You might like to support an idea like this.

1/12/2009 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

"More support for the arts" is not just financial--though, of course, I'd like us to get at least as much as the autoworkers, or the banks.

"More support" is, first, acknowledging the cultural role of arts in our society. Look at most schools: the emphasis is on math and english--fine topics, but how many people actually use algebra in their day-to-day lives? Art and music are once-a-week afterthoughts, if that.

Second, it's acknowledging the enormous economic role arts play in our economy. (I posted a topic on Joanne Mattera Art Blog a couple of days ago, so I won't rehash it here.) The ramifications of a downturn in the arts are enormous. This is why I love Quincy Jones's idea of a cabinet post for the arts--because it recognizes the economic and cultural importance of the visual and performing arts.

Third, it's funding the arts. More grants, more subsidized studio spaces, more purchase prizes, more funding for smaller museums, low-interest loans for galleries, some kind of rent stabilization in commercial buildings (studios and galleries)--some monies administered nationally, some regionally and even locally.

Artists are used to doing with little, so grant monies wouldn't have to be in the, oh, $700 billion range. There are many good arts organizations in place around the country, so money could be funneled through them. (Yes, this is an imperfect system, but I can say with absolute certainty that not one arts administrator would pocket a $10 million bonus.) A Secretary of the Arts would oversee this money, among other things, as well as host more cultural events to raise the profile of the arts.

Fourth, it's administrative help for artists. Most of us got into this field because we love to make art. Now, a huge chunk of our time is taken up with business matters. The average artist is a sole proprietor. And the average sole proprietor is the CE0, the CFO, the creative director, the art staff, the PR department, the travel agent, accounts payable and receivable, packing and shipping, and the janitor. On top of that, some artists shoulder a 9-5 or part-time job, or lecturing, tutoring or consulting.

In short, I'd like the government to at least match what private organizations are doing. Imagine if the good work of the Guggenheim, the Gottleib, the Elizabeth Foundation, the Pew, and all other grant-giving institutions large and small were matched by the gov.

I going to go lie down now ;-)

1/12/2009 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I think it's an important and perfectly relevant point in this thread, Bill, so I published it.

Thanks for that link!

Ed

1/12/2009 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Actually, I've received requests to sign that petition in my email more than once, and have declined to do so.

Maybe I'm just in a Mood, but I am feeling deeply cynical and suspicious about any attempt to 'support the arts' in a top-down manner that a 'Secretary of the Arts' position would imply. I see so much corruption, cronyism, nepotism, parasitism, and fatuous egoism in the art institutions we currently have, that I fear more government assistance for the arts would only bolster more of the same.

All of Joanne's suggestions sound great to me--in theory. But my experience of applying for any sort of assistance, whether it be sponsored by the government or by private institutions, contributes deeply to my cynicism.

I have applied for teaching jobs in the inner-city public schools that required me to spend six months jumping through hoops, attending seminars, workshops and trainings, filling out 10 copies of forms, getting signatures from various bureaucrats, writing lesson plans, mission statements, obtaining references, volunteering for unpaid jobs, all to have a slim chance of getting a miniscule grant to teach the scariest kids in the worst schools for a TWO WEEK PERIOD. Chances of obtaining a grant or studio space are only slightly better than winning the lottery. Whenever there's money being handed out, you can bet that there will be someone standing between you and the check whose entire reason for existing is to make you suffer for it.

Art institutions--and this includes philanthropic organizations--derive their status and authority from the fact that there are always exponentially more artists applying for these things than ever receive assistance. And this assistance is too often given for reasons having much more to do with PR than with principle.

In short, I think that there's too much politics in the art world already.

1/12/2009 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem I've had with public art is that the works selected all too often are by friends of the jurors.

ml

1/12/2009 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Art said...

I second Joanna's point that support for the arts can be more than financial. The arts are rarely a public value or priority, and attention to them is certainly something a top-down Secretary of the Arts could contibute to.

1/12/2009 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

So what I'm hearing is that we shouldn't try a new way, or a new approach to an old way, because the old way didn't work.

1/12/2009 05:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

PL is right. As you shield actors from the consequences of their actions, they become less efficient and less reasonable. Nothing shields actors from consequences quite like access to free money and the imprimatur of federal law. You can compare the first NEA grants to individual artists to the last ones, and see the aesthetic diversity taper to a point as selection committees became ever more tendentious. If you look at the economics involved, you would predict this from the get-go. Therefore...

What would "more support" for the arts look like to you?

A promise to stay as far away as possible.

1/12/2009 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous NoNoNO said...

I will not support a President who does not acknowledge the rights of artists in the form of copyright protections. Obama has shown total disregard for our creative rights by accepting officially or unofficially the art of Shepard Fairey as a vehicle for his visual platform. Shepard is a copyright infringer who has trampled the rights of many artists and has the nerve to threaten legal action against those who threaten his. If this was not true he would not have settled out of court with a few of those examples.

I also don’t trust Obama because some of the corporations supporting the current orphan works legislation were backers of the Obama campaign. My fear is that the arts community will be blinded with the change hype to the point that they will let their rights be challenged without a fight.

I realize that a lot of people in the arts community don't care about copyright protection. Richard Prince is often used as an example. But I also know that gallerists would be jumping mad if someone was making a profit off of images created by their artists. If that bill passes you would only be able to obtain a few thousand, at most and if you lost the court case you would have to pay everything out of hand.

There is now talk about Obama making a Secretary of Arts position in his cabinet. Do any of you realize the power that position would have in this administration and in future administrations?

The person with that power could dictate the type of work that can be shown in any exhibit space that receives government funding. This is why people debated against it in the 1920s. The concerns of the past are still relevant today.

You can hate Bush all you want. You can hate conservatives all you want. But don't forget your rights as an artist in that fury. Conservatives in the arts are a very silent minority but we will not stand for our rights and the rights of fellow artists to be exploited while everyone else is in a haze.

I don't want the government to dictate how I run my career in the arts community and I don't want to see my art made illegal due to abuse of power.

1/12/2009 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Politicians don't always understand that arts aren't "fluff." They're a multi-billion dollar industry employing thousands of people. For many cities, tourism dollars come directly from tourism (no one visits NYC for the beach, after all). Studies have shown that cities with vibrant art and cultural scenes have an easier time drawing educated workers and high-tech industries.

And yet politicians treat the arts as something no more important than the occasional night at the theater.

1/12/2009 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe a Secretary of Arts position would be a good thing. If a Republican is in office you might actually see exhibit spaces that receive government funding have exhibits other than ones that are critical of the United States. You might see art exhibits that examine Obama's past at your local museum instead of shows devoted to depiciting Bush as a bomb dropping monkey. Still want it now? Still want that balance? I doubt it. Liberalism today is not very liberal.

1/12/2009 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are also studies that show that cities with vibrant art and cultural scene are plagued by criminals and thugs. Just thought I would point that out. Why not improve the arts in smaller cities and towns? Why not bring the arts to communities that have never experienced the arts first hand? It would be nice if it were easier to bring great works of art to smaller communinities as long as they are protected. It seems unfair that only a few large cities contain the wealth of art history. Why not drive tourism to smaller cities by handing them a Picasso.

1/12/2009 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One should note that a lot of funding for the arts in the United States come from corporations. You know, those big businesses that so many people associate as being a conservative stranglehold.

Like it or not big business created the art community you have come to know in the United States. So if we "spread the wealth" you can look forward to less funding, closed doors, and further poverty in the creative community.

So many of you are hypocrits. Quick to rail against what you see as wealth controlling the masses while all the while having your hands out expecting what they provide.

1/12/2009 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Franklin,

I don't know what it would look like, but my impulse would be to explore the possibilities before saying No to them.

As Lisa points out succinctly, the arts are a multi-billion-doillar industry employing thousands of people. (My own recent blog post speculates what would/will happen when those industries begin to fail.)

1/12/2009 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Nonono:
+++I will not support a President +++who does not acknowledge the +++rights of artists in the form +++of copyright protections.


So...You're the type who agree that Warner did a good thing by removing all their videos fro Youtube??


Vade Retro Satana !!

Cedric C

1/12/2009 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

So what I'm hearing is that we shouldn't try a new way, or a new approach to an old way, because the old way didn't work.

Are you hearing that from me? Because that's not what I'm saying.

What I'm trying to say is that any appeal to some authority to solve my problems is something I don't want to do right now. Authority isn't new. It's older than the Old Testament.

As I said, I think your ideas are great. It's true that art contributes enormously to the economic life of our country, as well as to its culture, and that this fact isn't openly acknowledged, because too many powerful people's interests would be threatened if it WERE so acknowledged. Artists generally receive much less than their fair share of the economic benefits we create, and I'd like to see that change.

My concern is that the channels by which this system of artist-exploitation is maintained are very strongly entrenched, and the likely result of feeding more resources to 'the arts' from the top down is that these channels will be widened and strengthened. I am much more interested in exploring ways in which artists can support ourselves by creating entirely new creative and economic paradigms, which don't rely on the same systems of authority.

I don't know what that looks like. But there are a few bloggers out there, Deborah Fisher among them, who are exploring some interesting ideas.

1/12/2009 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think further government control of the arts is the worst thing we need right now. The more government control the more chance of being labeled a degenerate. I think people need to pick up a history book and read about early Nazi Germany.

Oops. Did I say Nazi Germany. I know we are not supposed to say those two words these days and that the majority of Germans hate that part of their history. But just as many were fanatic about that type of change at that time. Change is not always good.

1/13/2009 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger The Reader said...

What a beautiful irony that an arts blog might now be the best place to find a market fundamentalist.

On the subject of support for the arts I would like to see post graduate scholarships for MA's PhD's and Post Docs that would encourage artists to pursue interdisciplinary research in conjunction with science, and humanities departments at Universities.

The idea here would be to encourage two things. Firstly an exploration of what the idea of 'basic research' might mean to creative artists. And secondly, original scholarship that has implications for the arts and the other discipline that the artist chooses to engage with.

So if we take the example of neuroscience then part of the artist's responsibility would be to read up on the specific aspects of the literature that they are interested in, learn some of the experimental techniques involved in doing research in that area and integrate something of that way of knowing the world into a creative practice.

The emphasis would be on academic outcomes that have relevance for both fields.

1/13/2009 02:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Joanne, Lisa - The fact that the arts are a multi-billion dollar employing thousands of people is an argument against increased government support. Industry, fund thyself.

BTW, despite some shared concerns, I'd like to officially distance myself from the above anonymous member(s) of the Sore Loser wing of conservatism.

1/13/2009 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I don't understand. A couple weeks ago it was the end of the world. An economical disaster. And now you're talking about art funding again? At least incanada the situation "really feels" like an economical disaster, with the major cuts that happened in 2008, and some government funded art centres already closing down (or seriously considering it).


Cedric C

1/13/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I agree it's risky to appoint a Secretary of the Arts, but maybe they have more power than an educational role but less power than a censorship role. For example, in Massachusetts, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), for co-founded the Senate Cultural Caucus to show his longtime support for arts and culture in Massachusetts. So maybe there role is like a figure head to bring awareness and dialogue to the arts across all disciplines.

1/13/2009 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

PL and Franklin make good, clear arguments, as always, but I don't see how it can hurt to have the right person whispering in the right ears "Arts are good, arts contribute in a major way to local economies, let's take a percent of a percent of economic stimulus money and spread it around in arts communities". Like anything, it depends on who's whispering to whom. It won't change the system. We still all compete in the same old way. We can still try to change the system. I hate the concept of trickle down economics as much as the next radical progressive, but the economy is seriously dead out there. Artist's are losing their day jobs.

1/13/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger lookinaroundbob said...

If there could be a large, secure, well educated middle class that had a genuine interest in appreciating and owning reasonable quantities of affordable art, there would be a lively market of galleries and collectors to sustain many more of the talented, dedicated, committed artists clammering for a little piece of the pie. (we know that this is not what we have) What government can do to help this is to widen our economic base, educate our children and stay out of making decisions about the arts.
A market based, democratic country, should make democratic, market based art.

1/13/2009 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Regarding the petition... I signed because IMO, it's only purpose is to get a Secretary of the Arts appointed. I see that as something worthwhile. I mean, first you have to step on the path. I didn't see anything else written in the petition as far as its serving any other purpose than supporting the creation of the position. Everything else at this point is just speculation.

BTW, if you haven't checked out Joanne Mattera's well written blog topic about the arts and economics, do yourself a favor! I think she's got a good take on this.

1/13/2009 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Whoops, I dropped a noun up there.

I would like to see post graduate scholarships for MA's PhD's and Post Docs that would encourage artists to pursue interdisciplinary research in conjunction with science, and humanities departments at Universities.

Once upon a time, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower heard the news that Governor Bill Clements had been studying Spanish. Hightower famously remarked, "Oh, good. Now he'll be bi-ignorant."

The Reader's suggestion sounds like a great way to learn two disciplines poorly. I'd consider it more seriously if scientists were calling for such a thing, but they aren't, which tells you who stands to benefit - proponents of a research vogue going on in art right now that recapitulates the failed application of postmodernism to science in the one discipline too nebulous to reject it.

What government can do to help this is to widen our economic base, educate our children and stay out of making decisions about the arts.

Bob, there's a fair argument to make against the government educating our children as well, but I think you're on the right track here. Even proponents of the bailouts admit that they're inflationary, but they argue that we generally know how to take care of inflation (we raise interest rates) and we don't know what to do about deflation. This is going to devalue the dollar; the only question is how much. I would ultimately prefer that the government secure the value of the currency, and thus personal wealth, and allow said persons to buy art with it (or not) as they see fit.

In a way, there's something to be said for the notion that if the government is going to do anything, it should stick to ineffectual symbolic gestures, and the appointment of an Arts Cheerleader would certainly fit the bill. Better that than bold federal action, which is probably just going to screw up. Or we could just skip it.

1/13/2009 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I think one argument that is going to have to be made is how this is different than the NEA, i.e. why is more support for the arts needed and while I agree with education and advocacy I think what happened with the NEA individual grants is that funding on an individual level dried up and individual artists were forced to make marketable work to get funds. I think the key language point should be that the secretary of the arts promote dialogue in the arts and visibility/access to all art disciplines such as music, poetry, performance, theater, dance, visual arts, etc... There remains the thornier issue of how to handle fields such as craft, design and applied arts in a national arts dialogue. At least in Massachusetts, sports, tourism and the arts are all lumped together as 'culture'

1/13/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Hmm, currently there is a ...

Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Homeland Security

But no Secretary of Science and Technology or Secretary of the Arts. Maybe this is a good thing.

1/13/2009 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger jami said...

“but how many people actually use algebra in their day-to-day lives?”

Critical thinking is used everyday, especially by artists.

Necessity is the mother of invention, in abscence of this Secretary of Arts, artists must become even more creative in generating support for their work.

“fund thyself”

1/13/2009 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Anon,
I agree about art in smaller cities -- university towns are often very successful because of their cultural life.
BUT... spreading art around to small towns doesn't always work so well (unless it's a MAJOR art center like Marfa).

Here in Quebec, the government gives a lot of arts funding to organizations outside of the major cities. What happens is, the Montreal-based artists and curators set something up in the suburbs, just across city limits, to get the funding. The Montreal equivalent of Yonkers has about five well-funded contemporary art spaces. I have never ever seen a visitor in one of them.

Franklin-
Unless museums and symphonies and ballet companies, etc., move en masse to a for-profit system, the argument about jobs and tourism still holds.

1/13/2009 06:36:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

My friend Andrew Wagner sent me a link to a dust up between Michael Cannel, who wrote "Design Loves a Depression" in the Sunday Times, and Murray Moss.

http://designobserver.com/archives/entry.html?id=38886

One reader posted this from Robert Hughes which kind of sums up my thoughts, and the reason for my general support for an arts person in government who's job might be to help push money towards the arts and towards artists:

"On the whole, money does artists much more good than harm. The idea that one benefits from cold water, crusts and debt collectors is now almost extinct, like belief in the reformatory power of flogging." --Robert Hughes

1/13/2009 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Donna's comments are right to the point. Promoting all the arts are key.

1/13/2009 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So...You're the type who agree that Warner did a good thing by removing all their videos fro Youtube??"

Hmmm kind of like how clips of Obama messing up on speeches were removed from Youtube? Kind of like how pro-life clips have been removed from Youtube?

1/13/2009 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was talk about a Secretary of the Arts in the 1920s and the fight against it then will be the same today. If one is appointed should there also be a Secretary of Literature, Secretary of Prose, Secretary of Music. You can't lump everything under "Arts" without one group ending up getting the short end of the stick.

I do think that museums and galleries that are funded by tax payers should have an equal number of shows. So if there is a show questioning efforts in Iraq there should be another show supporting efforts in Iraq. If there is a show supporting abortion there should be another show supporting pro life. Do you want a democracy or do you want onesided opinion dominating our art culture. Currently things are very onesided. So I support this position and can't wait for the next conservative President to use it in order to spotlight ideas that have been kept out of our art cultural centers.

1/13/2009 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just take a look at Obama’s list of contributors on opensecrets - no doubt that with Lessig on his team and Microsoft and Google BOTH campaign contributors that without a doubt Obama is pro the Orphan works bills.

They are trying to sneak it thru congress right now - for anyone that is interested in protecting their copyrights, they need to be calling - For news and information:

Illustrators’ Partnership Orphan Works Blog:
http://ipaorphanworks.blogspot.com/

1/14/2009 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I like the idea of an opposing viewpoints series of art shows to promote dialogue amongst people who have different opinions but it sounds more like a project for a university than an art gallery.

If you support all the arts, and all secondary fields like design, crafts, architecture, advertising, documentaries etc.. you wind up with an initiative to support a creative economy initiative across all fields that promote creative work which is another model Massachusetts is promoting right now. With the help of the NEA who has earmarked? money for all fields of design, because there is more potential for job creation, entrepreneurship and start-ups in design fields, New England is vying to receive these dollars to support web design, advertising, publishing jobs that indirectly benefit artists and art centers. I'm still curious if the Secretary for the Arts (which in my mind does not mean only visual arts) would somehow be appointed to run the NEA in other words, the change may not be as significant as anticipated. The other model Massachusetts is spearheading is a joint committee on Art, Tourism and Culture in the State House where public and private partnerships are sought to support the arts and culture in MA. One example is Main Street initiative which was a project of the National Trust for Historic preservation but the City of Boston adopted it as a model and money is used to preserve the architectural heritage of a main street and businesses are encouraged to work together to promote the identity of their city. In my neighborhood, they started a 1st Thursday event where musicians, artists, poets, all turn out for performances and shows along the main street and the cafes give out free coffee, and snacks. I think it's a danger to think too narrowly about the potential Secretary of the Arts position or the Arts in general because so many other fields support the arts and touch our lives as artists indirectly.

1/14/2009 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Lisa, the misallocation of resources you describe in the Montreal 'burbs is such a common pattern that economists have a term for it: perverse externalities. While this phenomenon is not limited to government initiatives, you expect it regarding goverment initiatives because the government is not using its own money. Art has been a consistently urban phenomenon since the late Middle Ages and it is not within the power of the Quebec Parliament to alter that.

Unless museums and symphonies and ballet companies, etc., move en masse to a for-profit system, the argument about jobs and tourism still holds.

They can remain nonprofits and still fund themselves. Again, if arts entities are directly generating revenue for a host of business concerns, then those business concerns have a stake in perpetuating the arts entities and they will do so. If you doubt that conclusion, I question how strongly you believe the premise.

Donna, the beauty of those initiatives you describe is their small scale, which encourages action among a group of people who know each other, have incentives to act in each others' interest, and understand the territory. Projects of that scale are unlikely to turn into boondoggles, yet are larger than individuals would be able to organize on their own. As you move up the governmental echelons, the scope of projects and levels of abstraction increase, thereby making waste and ineffectiveness more probable. By abstraction, I mean replacing specific people and specific concerns with all-encompassing fluff like "promoting dialogue" and "supporting the arts." Creating a federal arts appointment would be the ultimate abstraction.

1/14/2009 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I like the idea of an opposing viewpoints series of art shows to promote dialogue amongst people who have different opinions but it sounds more like a project for a university than an art gallery."

If the gallery receives any government funding the Secretary of Arts could force it. The person in that position could also say that artists who receive government funding will have to balance the message their work speaks.

Don't support this guys.

1/14/2009 09:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take Ed's gallery for example. I don't know if he receives any government funding or help but if he does the Secretary of Arts could say, "OK. To keep your funding you need to have a show focused on marriage between a man and a woman. Followed by a show focused on Christian values in a positive way."

1/14/2009 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I think what the arts need at a national level is re-branding in the eyes of the public who think that national support for the arts=mapplethorpe, piss christ and karen finlay. I think at a national level, you're going to have to get a direction or an administrative charge from Obama to steer the national arts policy in a certain direction. It should involve the NEA who tends to fund organizations as well as the SBA who tends to understand entrepreneurs and perhaps the needs of the individual artist and lobbying groups like the American for the Arts, for starters. If you want the Secretary of the Arts to promote the fine arts, or the highest attainment in the arts, look at what fields the pulitzer and macarthur recognize, and set a course in that direction.

1/14/2009 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the public needs to not see strict far left ideas when they think of art. Piss Christ and the other examples you mentioned have created that image. Balance is key to raising the level of art appreciation in the United States.

It is just like how most people think that all artists sway left with politics. That is simply not true. But the stereotype is there because those are often the only artists supported in the art community. The heads of the art state are all very liberal and would never show certain artists based on political agenda alone. All the while upholding ideas of free speech and free expression. Take a walk around Chelsea and you will see that is a lie.

1/14/2009 11:55:00 AM  

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