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 Americas 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 were 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.