Editorial: Stimulus not Stimulating

The Arts should uplift us in times of trouble and they do. Sometimes the Arts also need to clothe the Emperor. Or to point out that he is naked.

This is one of those times.

Unlike less than 28% of Americans polled and 60% of the United States Senate, I recognize the Stimulus Package as the Generations Ransack America’s Financial Trust Act.

Many experts, including Congress’ own Congressional Budget Office, say the stimulus bill will at best do no good.

Many experts, including me, say the stimulus bill will hurt the economy in the long run.

Apparently common sense makes more cents in the Arts than in Washington. I had some infinitesimally small hope that Congress would do what Congress does best: lock the grid and spend the remainder of this session worrying about Alex Rodriguez’ steroid use. Nonetheless the House vote was 246-183 and the Senate voted 60-38 to spend more in a single bill than the total cost of the War in Iraq. Interestingly, the G.R.A.F.T. Act is expected to cost less than the total cost of World War II, adjusted for inflation. President Obama signed the measure in Denver today.

The bill includes some potentially good news for the Arts since the $50 million of National Endowment for the Arts funding dropped earlier was preserved in the final version of the package approved by both houses on Friday.

Truth be told, I’d rather give up the stimulus and go back to the normal funding scramble. After all, the NEA appropriation is not “new” money; it is simply a restoration of an item that was cut.

The New York Times reported that Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY and Congressional Arts Caucus co-chair, said, “If we’re trying to stimulate the economy, and get money into the Treasury, nothing does that better than art.”

Arts advocacy groups report that every dollar of NEA money generates an additional seven dollars from public and private supporters. And every dollar in the local Creative Economy improves life here in Franklin County.

That means the NEA appropriation could have stood on its own merits as it has in past budgets.

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1 Response to Editorial: Stimulus not Stimulating

  1. When I think of art I think of oils hanging in museums or ancient pottery or statues of exagerated human likenesses from some bygone era. I have visited Europe many times and seen the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David, the Winged Victory, etc.; as well as the classic paintings in Amsterdam and Munich. I was impressed, but not awed. I had seen them before in books; and since visitors are not allowed to palpate the objects, I came away only with the realization that they were larger than depicted on pages.

    Truthfully I have never been particularly interested in American art such as shown in municipal Stateside museums and galleries — or Americana memorabilia representing any particular area or indiginous people.

    I have no idea what it costs to house, display and protect
    these artifacts; but I’m positive it is too much. Moreover, much of what is heralded as art only manages to meet the subjective definition of that word. In my opinion, much of it is trash.

    I’m sure there is a place in modern society for the interests of the NEA — and surely there must be a way to financially sustain those interests. I am only one voice.

    Trash or treasure, I would be content to view an 8 X 10 glossy of it from a library book — at a much cheaper cost. To misquote a famous critic: “I don’t know much about art, but I do know what I don’t like.”

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