Hold On Arts Lovers, Here We Go Again

Are we seriously going down this road again? Are we seriously discussing again getting rid of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and The National Endowment for the Humanities? And do we seriously have to argue again for the value of supporting creativity and culture?

Do we really need to trot out the thousands of studies that show that interaction with the arts improves the intellect, that exposure to the arts increases tolerance, that participation in the arts relieves stress and improves confidence, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Do we still, after so many generations, need to point out that not a single day will go by in which art will not affect and enrich each and every person’s life?

If we haven’t learned yet the value of the arts and culture, will we ever? Does it matter how many reports we quote, how many statistics we present, how many experts we bring forth to testify? Does it matter how many artists and celebrities create videos begging us to acknowledge the importance of art or how many writers pen beautiful essays to convince us of art’s influence?

How many more stories do we need to hear of famous artists, writers, directors, dancers, producers, and creators who got their starts through NEA grants? How many times do we have to be reminded of the importance of television shows like Sesame Street to help kids of all economic levels experience quality broadcasting? How many times does it need to be pointed out that some other countries spend billions of dollars funding the arts, while our politicians are once again suggesting zero funding.

Is there anything, anything, I can say that will once and for all speak to the value of the only thing that outlasts a civilization, its art? If no one listened to John F. Kennedy, or Winston Churchill, or Maya Angelou, why would they listen to me?

In some odd way, we artists and art lovers should be flattered. The politicians know that nothing will keep us from making art and no one is more resourceful or clever than artists or the people who support us. We’ll outlast whatever attempts are made to discourage or destroy us. But why, in the 21st Century, is this still necessary? When will we ever grow up?

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