With the pending economic stimulus package, national and community arts organizations were worried if concern for the arts would make the cut. Over the past few weeks it looked like little or no money would be set aside for the arts.
However, on Sunday the New York Times reported that the last push from art and culture representatives, including Robert Redford, and thousands of advocates, was a success and $50 million has been secured for National Endowment for the Arts.
The article explains how the Sundance Kid and others had to convince Nancy Pelosi and other political faces that the arts are worth that extra boost, especially in shaky economic times. Reminders are often needed that the arts offer millions (really, millions) of jobs nationwide, and push billions of dollars through the economy.
Before the confetti drops, this great achievement does not mean all smiles for arts and culture. There are still many out there like Georgian Representative Jack Kingston, who disagreed with art’s share. “Call me a sucker for the working man,” Kingston told the Congressional Quarterly. I guess to Kingston, working artists, administrators, curators, community builders and countless other figures don’t count.
Even with downers like Kingston, this moment means more than giving the arts a slice of the stimulus pie. Having politicians, community members and organization leaders come together on an issue like this is huge. Recognizing the significance and endless potential for the arts community is a good day in anybody’s book.
Just in case this summary and commentary was not enough, here’s a link to the full NYTimes article, "Saving Federal Arts Funds: Selling Culture as an Economic Force."