3 reasons why tax dollars shouldn’t fund art

posted at 10:05 am on June 8, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Reason TV’s latest video starts off with a gut-busting claim from one of my favorite actors, Kevin Spacey, on how Abraham Lincoln relied on the arts to “replenish his soul,” which Nick Gillespie points out somehow glosses over the fact that Lincoln was assassinated by an actor while attending a theater performance. Whether Lincoln craved the arts is one question, but it has little to do with the question of whether taxpayers should fund the arts through public financing. After the initial spit-take opening, Reason TV and Nick walk through three common sense reasons why taxpayers should stay out of the art business:

1. Publicly financed art is easily censored art. Last December, the National Portrait Gallery almost immediately pulled a four-minute video called “A Fire in My Belly” after complaints from the Catholic League and politicians such as Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who objected to images of ants crawling over a crucifix. It’s hard to imagine a private museum so quickly and cravenly pulling an offending piece. But when the taxpayer is footing the bill, the most easily aggrieved among us yields a thug’s veto. Indeed, in February, scandalized Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) even called for getting rid of a 1922 statue in New York City due to what he says is its sexist portrayal of women.

2. We’re broke. Advocates of public funding for the arts routinely argue that the budget of groups such as the National Endowment for the Arts comes to just pennies per citizen and the cost of just one Pentagon bomber is comparatively huge. But government at every level is flat broke, so it’s all money we don’t have. Defense spending, which has jacked up by over 70 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2001, should be cut drastically. But that doesn’t mean smaller items should get a pass or that taxpayers should pony up for another season of Dr. Who reruns on PBS.

3. It’s unnecessary.NEA head Rocco Landesman has defended grants to groups such as the San Francisco Mime Troupe on the grounds that it is a world-famous outfit that has contributed mightily to the stage. Which is another way of saying it should have little to no trouble finding private patrons to help it out. Americans give around $13 billion a year in private donations to the arts. That’s a lot of money and if it’s not enough to fund every request, groups such as the San Francisco Mime Troupe will just have to figure out how to better work the crowd.

All of these are good reasons, but there is a fourth.  There is no jurisdiction in which Congress has authority to finance art exhibitions.  Congress can certainly purchase art for federal buildings and land, although I’d apply all three rules in that case as well.  But there is not a single word in the Constitution that even implies that Congress or the executive branch has the authority to subsidize artists, whether that be Norman Rockwell or Robert Mapplethorpe.

I’d take a little exception to the notion of “thug’s veto” in the case of A Fire in My Belly, and of “censored art” in the context of debating public financing.  A “thug’s veto” refers to the curtailing of free expression through intimidation.  No one suggested that the display in question should be destroyed or banned; rather, taxpayers refused to play the role of patron by funding its exhibition.  If artists don’t like the consequences of having taxpayers as patrons, then they shouldn’t suck at the public teat in the first place.  Nick’s argument cedes the notion that taxpayer dollars are necessary for freedom of expression, which is exactly what he opposes.

Artists who seek public financing don’t worry about freedom of expression — they oppose the freedom to fail as artists.  They don’t like it, and so they want taxpayers to act as patrons, while demanding that they don’t exercise the traditional role of patrons in discriminating between good and bad art.  Not only are we too broke to provide welfare for artists who can’t hack it on their own talents, all it does is encourage bad art to flourish by eliminating the feedback loop.


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Cut it off. Then, expand to include ALL subsidies.

cktheman on June 8, 2011 at 10:08 AM

NOBODY LIKES MIMES!!!!!

Blake on June 8, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Spacey was yapping for years that he was going to give up his citizenship and become British. Why is he still here?

Blake on June 8, 2011 at 10:09 AM

They should talk to that rich guy who wants to be taxed more, he looks like the perfect patron of the arts.

Cindy Munford on June 8, 2011 at 10:11 AM

I live in New York and attend the theatre here regularly. Most people on HotAir—and almost anywhere else in the country—would be likely be shocked by the anti-American garbage that passes for “art” at major theatre companies all of our taxes pay for.

I agree with cktheman at the top of the comments: “Cut it off.” If they want to produce these shows on their own dime, more power to them. But stop using America’s tax dollars to promote Communism at nonprofit theaters. And no, I’m not joking.

WesternActor on June 8, 2011 at 10:13 AM

If ya can’t make a living at it, then it’s a hobby. You don’t fund my hobbies, I won’t fund yours, we can call it even.

Right?

MNHawk on June 8, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I’m sure Obama has a similar feeling when he bails out automotive industries, countries, and bums: “But it frees my soul!”

What soul?

RDE2010 on June 8, 2011 at 10:15 AM

If it’s “art” why don’t they support “Pee On Allah” or “Feces Covered Mohammed”???

DEFUND IT ALL!!!

Roy Rogers on June 8, 2011 at 10:17 AM

I had an argument about arts funding with a lefty friend back in Britain. He linked to an article which claimed that for every quid spent by the government on art, they get 3 back. I asked him why, if that were the case, art needs a government subsidy. Silence.

Sharke on June 8, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Real art isn’t funded. Where’s the suffering in that? No suffering, no art. Ask any Hippie.

Hening on June 8, 2011 at 10:18 AM

NOBODY LIKES MIMES!!!!!

Blake on June 8, 2011 at 10:08 AM

I like mimes when they stay quit.

Slowburn on June 8, 2011 at 10:18 AM

ONLY three?

csdeven on June 8, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Why can’t we have a tax on wealthy artists to fund poor artists?

MeatHeadinCA on June 8, 2011 at 10:22 AM

One thing though: let’s not forget that architecture and landscape architecture are art. Had the 9/11 terrorists succeeded and destroyed the Capitol, I presume the vast majority of citizens would support public funds being used to restore the building and grounds to their original splendor, even though it would be far cheaper to build a standard, boring, modern building for our representatives to convene in.

radjah shelduck on June 8, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Considering that the concept of “art” has gone from Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to some goof nailing a worn baseball to a piece of feces-covered cardboard and calling the end result “Despair!” or something, there is no way in a blue moon I would want my tax dollars funding stupidity like that!

pilamaye on June 8, 2011 at 10:23 AM

the most easily aggrieved among us yields a thug’s veto. Indeed, in February, scandalized Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) even called for getting rid of a 1922 statue in New York City due to what he says is its sexist portrayal of women.

Heh Nice Catch

Dr Evil on June 8, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Yea. And what are the chances that any subsidy will fund art extolling less powerful government, individual accomplishment or insults of any of the truly favored groups or, as pointed out above, any group that my burn something down?

IlikedAUH2O on June 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM

But there is not a single word in the Constitution that even implies that Congress or the executive branch has the authority to subsidize artists, whether that be Norman Rockwell or Robert Mapplethorpe.

When has that ever stopped them?

CityFish on June 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM

The next time there’s a publicly-funded (even in part) art exhibit featuring anti-religious themes, they need to be taken to court with a separation of church and state argument! Let them try to justify that it’s ok to fund anti-religious art, but pro-religious art is not ok. Let them try to explain how they will enforce the difference in the future – who is to determine if something is pro or anti.

happi on June 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Why don’t they just raise the price of admission?

cjn on June 8, 2011 at 10:28 AM

As someone who produces art (painting), it’s a simple equation;

If someone likes my product, they are free to express appreciation by exchanging their “currency of the realm” for my product. If they don’t like the product, they are free to take their money elsewhere.

Dripping paint onto a canvas (Jackson Pollack, aka, “Jack the Dripper”) or submerging a religious icon in urine (Andres Serrano, “Piss Christ”) isn’t displaying artistic talent, it’s a display of a total lack of talent (Pollack) or visceral hatred of Jesus of Nazareth (Serrano).

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ

“Piss Christ is a 1987 photograph by artist and photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine. The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition,[1] which is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a United States Government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects.”

I recognize Jesus as LORD. As an artist, I’m curious how much funding the National Endowment for the Arts would provide me if I undertook to create a similar work blaspheming the NationalSocialist god, entitled “Piss Obama”?

The correct answer is, let artists find patrons other than the tax-payers.

oldleprechaun on June 8, 2011 at 10:28 AM

tip

VIDEO: TED NUGENT VS. ROSEANNE BARR

Uncle Ted squares off with the brain dead Roseanne on CNN, over Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

Nearly Nobody on June 8, 2011 at 10:29 AM

Wait a minute, I thought “mime is money”!

Monkeytoe on June 8, 2011 at 10:29 AM

Spacey was yapping for years that he was going to give up his citizenship and become British. Why is he still here?

Blake on June 8, 2011 at 10:09 AM

According to the Wiki, Spacey is waiting for his citizenship to become avaliable to him. After that, he can join other fellow “artists” like Madonna, i.e. use his “abilities” to become more British and “replinish his soul.”

RDE2010 on June 8, 2011 at 10:29 AM

I’m having flashbacks from the movie Shakes the Clown, lol. Mimes are the lowest class of clowns.

I am an artist and I totally agree with Reason. We prop up too much bad art.

And, can we dissolve all 501c’s? We can no longer afford giving tax exempt status to everything under the sun.

Fallon on June 8, 2011 at 10:31 AM

I went to share this article on Facebook, and it looks like the only option is tweeting now? I realize I can still “like” the article, but I really prefer the option to Share.

tikvah on June 8, 2011 at 10:32 AM

A government-supported artist is an incompetent whore.
– R.A.H.

mojo on June 8, 2011 at 10:33 AM

The best reason not to fund the arts is the ‘starving artist’ concept: starving artists produce art that will sell and is pleasing to look at.

Or they will starve.

Or find a real job.

ajacksonian on June 8, 2011 at 10:34 AM

The best reason not to fund the arts is the ‘starving artist’ concept: starving artists produce art that will sell and is pleasing to look at.

Or they will starve.

Or find a real job.

ajacksonian on June 8, 2011 at 10:34 AM

I was about to say, “because the ‘art’ the government buys is often no good”. There was a bit of controversy in St. Louis over some ugly and expensive ‘art’ that showed up at public transit stations. People thought it was a waste of money. The transit agency defended itself by saying “the money came from a grant that required us to spend some of the money buying art.”

David Shane on June 8, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Indeed, in February, scandalized Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) even called for getting rid of a 1922 statue in New York City due to what he says is its sexist portrayal of women.

Was this before or after he sponsored the bill to keep kids safe from internet prOn? What a freakin pig, do as I say, not as I do…

sicoit on June 8, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Actually, I know this was after the KIDS bill was passed in 2007….;-)

sicoit on June 8, 2011 at 10:39 AM

I went to share this article on Facebook, and it looks like the only option is tweeting now? I realize I can still “like” the article, but I really prefer the option to Share.

tikvah on June 8, 2011 at 10:32 AM

You can copy and paste the address field (http://hotair… etc) into your status. Once the story shows up, you can highlight and delete the address and add a comment.

Fallon on June 8, 2011 at 10:43 AM

A little gift that keeps on giving (or taking) in Illinois by a Republican governor:

Permanent Art Collection

Recognizing the importance of art in the lives of Illinois citizens, Governor James R. Thompson, on August 3, 1977, signed into law Public Act 80-241. This Act created the “% for Art Program”, which sets aside a 1/2 a percent of the total monies appropriated for construction of state-funded public buildings to be used for the purchase of art.

The purpose of the ‘% for Art Program’ is to promote and support arts in our state; place artwork in accessible locations for the public during everyday activities; and humanize the architectural environment by enhancing state buildings and other areas occupied by visitors and employees.

The program also provides job opportunities for artists and is an ongoing documentation of contemporary art in Illinois.

Since July 1, 1978, the state has obtained more than 600 works of art, varying in size, shape, and medium, for 25 projects located throughout Illinois. The James R. Thompson Center has the largest single collection of contemporary Illinois art, with more than 150 displayed works, which exhibit the exceptional talents of our state’s artists and restake Chicago’s claim as the cultural hub of the Midwest.

Fallon on June 8, 2011 at 10:53 AM

The best reason not to fund the arts is the ‘starving artist’ concept: starving artists produce art that will sell and is pleasing to look at.

Or they will starve.

Or find a real job.

ajacksonian on June 8, 2011 at 10:34 AM

I was about to say, “because the ‘art’ the government buys is often no good”. There was a bit of controversy in St. Louis over some ugly and expensive ‘art’ that showed up at public transit stations. People thought it was a waste of money. The transit agency defended itself by saying “the money came from a grant that required us to spend some of the money buying art.”

David Shane on June 8, 2011 at 10:37 AM

I disagree with both of you. The best reason for the government to not fund art is that the government will buy art liked by politically connected groups–not what the general public wants. For instance, classical music has benefited from much government largess, but most people don’t like it that much. In fact, even those who claim to listen to it on the radio, don’t. Individuals do a good job finding the art that they like themselves–especially in the Internet era.

thuja on June 8, 2011 at 10:58 AM

You can always easily tell when “art” is publicly funded:

It’s most often absolute cr@p that nobody in the private sector would ever want to buy. Bad artists and social outcasts simply want a pass to pick the taxpayers’ pockets.

Government shouldn’t fund “art” for the same reason that it shouldn’t fund religion.

landlines on June 8, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Just another subsidy ready to be cut…

We’re out of Schlitz…

Khun Joe on June 8, 2011 at 11:05 AM

All of these are good reasons, but there is a fourth. There is no jurisdiction in which Congress has authority to finance art exhibitions.

And this is the most important reason of all, and sadly, one that Congress and a large portion of the American public ignores.

UltimateBob on June 8, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Lincoln didn’t really want to go to the theater that evening…

capricorn on June 8, 2011 at 11:11 AM

I’m an artist, and I completely agree…cut it all off…if you can’t survive on your own merit, maybe it’s time to think about a fallback.

Ciannaky on June 8, 2011 at 11:12 AM

#5 Finance your own damn hobby.

Alden Pyle on June 8, 2011 at 11:14 AM

I say. “Hey, if you want tax payers to fund your art then let’s do what Cuba does and put Kevin Spacey on a 20 dollar per month salary and call it a day.”

Worker’s Actors paradise!

esnap on June 8, 2011 at 11:27 AM

I haven’t read all the comments, but here is the really galling thing.

I mentioned on another thread sometime back that I write novels. I’m published with a large publishing company. That said, I’m just a little cog in the big gear of the publishing world. I’m not one of the major name authors like Stephen King or even a semi-familiar name. Add up all the hours I spend on a book, and I make less than minimum wage.

And I get to pay taxes on my little bit of earnings to support some supposed “artists” who aren’t even good enough to find buyers for their work. I, and thousands more like me who produce commercially viable art, are truly the poor starving artists.

Where’s mine, anyway? How come I don’t get free money from the Obama stash?

CJ on June 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Maybe it’s just my jaded, perverse sense of humor, but the picture of the lady carrying the sign “Vote 4 Art”… isn’t that the same as “Vote Fart”? The sign says it all.

Harrell on June 8, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Actually, bombers, etc., cost Americans only pennies as well.

vermin on June 8, 2011 at 11:45 AM

1. Publicly financed art is easily censored art.

I was disappointed in Nick’s explanation of this. He was right, but a “thug’s veto” is one of the few good points of publicly subsidized art. What is overlooked is that the NEA claims that to end their subsidies amounts to censorship. The NEA doesn’t approve every application they get, so you have a quasi-governmental board censoring some artists by rejecting their applications. Who are they to decide which “artist” is worthy of a taxpayer subsidy and who isn’t? If they award money to those they think won’t make it in the market (I don’t know if that’s the case or not),then they are buying crap with taxpayer money, and judging from what I’ve seen, that’s the case.

cartooner on June 8, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Last December, the National Portrait Gallery almost immediately pulled a four-minute video called “A Fire in My Belly” after complaints from the Catholic League and politicians such as Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who objected to images of ants crawling over a crucifix. It’s hard to imagine a private museum so quickly and cravenly pulling an offending piece.

I suspect a video of ants crawling across the Koran wouldn’t even get displayed–just as virtually all newspapers nixed publishing the bland “Muhammad” cartoons a few years back.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on June 8, 2011 at 11:56 AM

I mentioned on another thread sometime back that I write novels.

CJ on June 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Q: What’s the difference between authors and editors?
A: Authors write novels; editors right authors’ novels.

(Joke)

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on June 8, 2011 at 12:02 PM

One thing though: let’s not forget that architecture and landscape architecture are art. Had the 9/11 terrorists succeeded and destroyed the Capitol, I presume the vast majority of citizens would support public funds being used to restore the building and grounds to their original splendor, even though it would be far cheaper to build a standard, boring, modern building for our representatives to convene in.

radjah shelduck on June 8, 2011 at 10:23 AM

You overlook an important distinction. There is a difference between what the government buys and what it subsidizes. Rebuilding a destroyed Capitol or White House has nothing to do with NEA grants or subsidizing artists. Even buying art to furnish government buildings is for government use and not a subsidy.

cartooner on June 8, 2011 at 12:08 PM

NEA head Rocco Landesman has defended grants to groups such as the San Francisco Mime Troupe

Mimes… Enough said… Pull the plug.

jeffn21 on June 8, 2011 at 12:10 PM

I’m reminded of the scene in the movie “L.A. Story” where Steve Martin is at a fund raiser and the host, a pompous ass is giving his toast:

“And I knew….it was a great project. If the city were willing to partially finance my private museum. It would be a great bonus for the people.”

RDuke on June 8, 2011 at 12:24 PM

There is no jurisdiction in which Congress has authority to finance art exhibitions.

Good & Plenty Clause.

Or was that the Good and Proper Welfare Clause?

Good Welfare Clause?

How about the Good Clause?

I know John Conyers has the answer, call him.

ButterflyDragon on June 8, 2011 at 12:30 PM

There’s a 5th reason — when art is funded by the State, art ends up *serving* the State. As Brietbart revealed in 2009, the NEA has been coordinating with the White House to promote “art” that support’s the Obama Admin and agendas:

http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/pcourrielche/2009/09/21/explosive-new-audio-reveals-white-house-using-nea-to-push-partisan-agenda/

When art Serves the state it’s called propaganda, and it has no place in a free society. There are already enough lunatic Leftists in Hollywood spending their own money making paeans to Obama (remember this creepy “Kids Sing for The Dear Leader Obama video produced in the Fall of 2008 by Hollywood execs??: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54tjbgJmLFg) — we don’t need them getting millions in our tax dollars to do more!!

EasyEight on June 8, 2011 at 12:35 PM

candied yams. belgian waffles. karen finley never did put a yam where the sun don’t shine, which caused quite the bruhaha, but that’s not the point-they’re throw back socialists who think everyone else has to pay them for being unrecognized geniuses. if the free market won’t do it the government and it’s tax payers will be made to. why don’t people like finley, who was the whipping girl for lack of decency in NEA funding( all the way to the supreme court), understand that the first amendment guarantees free speech- it doesn’t require that the government fund it? why would such a free thinker and visionary want to compromise their precious art by having the government or other big corporation fund it?

just because the liberal views of the ruling elite may be on your side now doesn’t mean they aren’t sticking it to someone else who may have different opinions. but who cares about the free speech of others when it’s all about You and your jar of urine and your ant colony and your PR and your loft space and your social dance card and your personal psychological issues with authority figures.

government sponsored art always equals censored art. are these artists stupid or just delusional? hapless pawns of liberalism. in the 60s they’d be called sell outs: co-opted by the Man. now they think they’re free speech warriors. just hustlers scamming for attention and a paycheck- gold bricking middle class college educated welfare rats, upscale crackhos with aspirations. it’s never revolutionary or counter-culture to be funded by the damn government.

rebellion sure ain’t what it used to be- now they “rebel” by demanding official recognition and sponsorship which in most cases equals tax payers paying to be offended not helping to foster some incredible talent which will enrich our culture. what does it say about our culture that the focus of it’s art and controversies surrounding art appear to only deal with the degradation of others and their beliefs? perhaps because some have no beliefs of their own they are willing to defend or able to represent in their art.

mittens on June 8, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Human beings are naturally creative. They can, and will, find outlets for that creativity without Uncle Sam footing the bill.

Murf76 on June 8, 2011 at 1:13 PM

5. We can’t afford it.

slickwillie2001 on June 8, 2011 at 1:26 PM

How about an Art Fleming Memorial?

/the real host of jeopardy

Ward Cleaver on June 8, 2011 at 1:30 PM

The blonde? I’ll bet she’s easy.

/and contagious

Ward Cleaver on June 8, 2011 at 1:31 PM

I suppose the Department of Art has a SWAT team too?

docjohn52 on June 8, 2011 at 1:46 PM

The way the fascist LibTards are always going on & on about Nazism (BTW – Nazi was the German acronym for National SOCIALIST WORKERS Party), it’s no wonder they want the taxpayer to subsidize the arts.

It’s easy to imagine them saying that if Germany had subsidized artists then Hitler wouldn’t have been a failed painter and WWII would have never happened.

I say defund taxpayer support of the arts and we’ll deal with any failed-painter Leftist fascist upstarts at the ballot box.

CatchAll on June 8, 2011 at 1:54 PM

thuja on June 8, 2011 at 10:58 AM

That is why you don’t fund it: keep the artists starving.

The moment they stop starving the quality deteriorates. Government ‘help’ makes art worse by not having artistic taste applied to the product. Bureaucrats want homogeneous art that can be quantified. Bureaucrats have demonstrated that when it comes to art, the power point slide is at the apex of their tastes. Look at the food pyramid or food plan, both could have been done by a power point presentation… one from the ’70s and one from 2011, and yet both have the exact, same, level of artistry.

If you want good art, don’t let government fund it, whatever you do.

Government has no taste, no class, no ability to quantify the things we love about art: that good art cannot come from being pushed by grants, only by those who adore it and are willing to starve to make it. Hungry artists are good artists, or they stop thinking of themselves as artists and soon think of better things to do with their lives and arts becomes a hobby, not a job title.

What to kill art? Make it a job title that has assured income. The moment reward for good performance is removed the quality goes down.

If you look at all the lovely artwork from Germany under the NSDAP, Italy under the Fascists or Russia under the USSR you see a depressing similarity to all of it, including those done under public works in the US under FDR. Hunky, chunky people with primary colors and cheap printing: government art. Doesn’t matter if it is done on archive quality paper with the best of off-set presses, it is still government junk. Why does it all end up the same? No incentive to create something different. The reward is for homogeneous art. When government wants bad art, it pays for it directly to the artist. When it wants good art it buys it long after it has been made, and not done under a government grant.

Uplifting art is not done by people with assured paychecks or grants. If you have to please someONE you get good art. When you have to please someTHING (which is a government or committee) you get hunky, chunky primary colors and stuff a 2 year old can do.

da Vinci had to please patrons.

Michaelangelo had to please patrons.

Mozart had to please patrons.

Almost all of those were wealthy nobles or church figures. They may have been part of government, yes, but they were individuals, not committees.

ajacksonian on June 8, 2011 at 2:03 PM

#4 It’s not the federal government’s job.

obladioblada on June 8, 2011 at 2:47 PM

typical hot air. Go for the short-term monetary gain over the long-term cultural win.

You guys aren’t wrong, just short-sighted.

triple on June 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM

a perfect example of why its not a good idea to have taxpayer monies put into art just happened here in Maine when Gon LePage ordered the removal of a mural depicting the history of labor on the walls of the Dept of Labor office due to complaints from taxpayers who found it to be unfriendly to business. (there was a $60,000 federal grant) The libs went ape$*it over it, they still are. Based on their reaction, it was the right call to remove it and let it be displayed in some museum.

maineconservative on June 8, 2011 at 2:54 PM

And also “Sir Humphrey and Jim Hacker discuss art subsidies”. A middle-class ripoff.

andycanuck on June 8, 2011 at 3:22 PM

and what would Washington D.C. look like without Art? without the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson memorial? those things are art too. paid for by some Tax dollars.

Kaptain Amerika on June 8, 2011 at 3:40 PM

typical hot air. Go for the short-term monetary gain over the long-term cultural win.

You guys aren’t wrong, just short-sighted.

triple on June 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Okay, I’ll bite. What is the long term cultural win?
p.s. I’m an artist, so make it good.

2L8 on June 8, 2011 at 3:51 PM

and what would Washington D.C. look like without Art? without the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson memorial? those things are art too. paid for by some Tax dollars.

Kaptain Amerika on June 8, 2011 at 3:40 PM

I think you are confusing art with a monument, which can be art but has a specific purpose-to honor someone or a group.

2L8 on June 8, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Why were the “mimes” wearing microphones?

liberty0 on June 8, 2011 at 3:55 PM

First three points are all valid policy points I can agree with, Ed. But your fourth, not so much…

All of these are good reasons, but there is a fourth. There is no jurisdiction in which Congress has authority to finance art exhibitions. Congress can certainly purchase art for federal buildings and land, although I’d apply all three rules in that case as well. But there is not a single word in the Constitution that even implies that Congress or the executive branch has the authority to subsidize artists, whether that be Norman Rockwell or Robert Mapplethorpe.

Congress can authorize spending “to promote the general welfare”, and since this what is called a “plenary” authority, it does not need to be enumerated specifically in the Constitution that Congress has the power to fund the arts. The general overarching theme of the Constitution (pre-14th Amendment) is to limit the power of the Fed over everyone else’s rights. Spending for pet causes doesn’t really limit anyone’s rights per se. After all, artists not funded by the Fed can still make whatever art they want (that’s not deemed “obscene” according to case law). So Congress is well within its authority to fund all kinds of trash art in a nondiscriminatory manner.

NorthernCross on June 8, 2011 at 6:04 PM

I want a grant for a Conceptual Art piece.

$50,000 should do.

Called “Business/ God/ Government/ Love” (depending on the city… e.g: NYC/SFO/D.C./Philadelphia.)

A desk telephone … with its handset super glued to the cradle… fitted with an infra red sensor which starts it ringing whenever anyone approaches within 5 feet.

But they can’t answer it… because hen they try to lift the receiver off the phone, the entire phone lifts off the table.

profitsbeard on June 9, 2011 at 12:54 AM