Do you support the public funding of the Arts?
Let’s re-phrase the question into something meaningful to the most people:
Do you support the extraction of taxes from people (ultimately, at the point of a gun) to pay certain people chosen by government bureaucrats to display, exhibit, or perform their art?
If I were you, and I were someone trying to make a living from my art, I would be highly offended at the suggestion that the government knows what good art is.
I would be highly offended by the suggestion that selected artists should get government handouts to promote their activities over mine.
The citizens of Norman do not trust their government officials to even set utility rates: all increases must be approved by a vote of the people. Why would we trust the government to dictate the art we promote or consume?
Are we not free thinking people who can each individually decide what art is meaningful and edifying to our lives? Can we not choose which of our walls we want to hang it on? Can we not log into Amazon.com, choose, and then download tens of thousands of unique tunes with the click of a single button?
For many of us, the public school system spent twelve productive years of our lives attempting to “educate” us with respect to not only our civic duty, but aesthetics as well. The educators may have, in their opinion, failed to properly indoctrinate us. The indoctinators would like to pursue their efforts through continuing adult education. No doubt they laugh all the way to the bank while not only making us endure their propaganda, but making us pay for it as well.
The argument for tax-payer funding of artists is an age old question – from the time of antiquity. A review of history easily reveals that government supervised artists are indistinguishable from propagandists. If you value your freedom as an artist, you ought to flee from their employment offers with all haste.
Most artists strive to be a corporation of one: they desire to give voice to their own thoughts and emotions. If you don’t believe the government should favor one corporation over another in a free-market system, then you shouldn’t stand for your tax dollars being spent promoting your artistic competitors over you.
According to Thomas Jefferson, “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
The only way to avoid all these pitfalls is by the private funding of artists and the arts. Toby Keith and Beyonce have both proven it can be done. There are thousands of other living and dead examples. Art is a business just like every other one out there. Artists do not face any hurdle that the corner coffee shop doesn’t.
I personally have had the opportunity to pursue a career in art. After careful evaluation, I concluded that it was unlikely I’d be able to live the sort of life I imagined myself living if I relied on such a career move. Instead, I moved into fields in which people seemed to place a higher value. Those fields included construction, real estate, and lately computer software. I don’t regret my decision. Computer software is both an art and a science.
I still get to dabble, build furniture in my shop, ride a fine two-wheeled piece of machinery, and enjoy the art I choose out of all the manifold offerings out there. Making a living for myself and providing for my family is far more important to me than the personal satisfaction I might get from a full-time career in art.
If public funding of the arts is ever eliminated, I doubt any artist will starve to death. When a starving artist finds him or herself a job, two problems are immediately solved: unemployment and bad art.
There are those who say that some great art might not be produced when a great artist is gainfully employed otherwise. In my humble opinion, the best art is exhibited through the artistic and thoughtful production of one’s own life. We are all artists in that respect.
If you are a philanthropist and connoisseur of fine art, and you would like, please thoughtfully consider contributing to the most meaningful campaign for Mayor.