Should the state fund the arts?
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    Should the state fund the arts?

    Hey there,

    I just found that TheEconomist is holding this week's debate on
    "Should the state fund the arts?"
    -> http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/875
    It's obviously a political debate which includes the arts in general, but I thought it'd be worth a read nonetheless.

    In case you are not familiar, the debate will last until Friday, and people can vote everyday. Two people argue for and against in the traditional debating style and it features a guest comment as well. People can leave comments as well.


    I figured it might be an interesting topic to some on this forum.
    Sorry if it was already posted someplace else (or it belongs in a different section)

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    Not directly.
    It should provide the forums, but not support the content.
    Supporting the content is the reason for the dogmatic mess we're in as a culture.

    From Gegarin's point of view
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    I say no. let people get good or popular enough to make their own way. Since artists don't do it for the money anyway, (according to all the people who hate galleries and selling their art). Why should the state subsidize them? We don't need another big twisted piece of metal or a rock some city paid millions for stuck in the town center and passed off as for the public good.

    Last edited by dpaint; August 26th, 2012 at 12:19 AM.
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    Yerp against. I know all too well about the statues and shit Dpaints talking about here in the U.S. Oh look someone was buddy buddy with those in office and said "Hey my friends good pay him to do this and that". and wallah modern art rocks and twisted metal.

    I've seen more inspiring art on the walls of broken down buildings which cost taxpayers 0 dollars.

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    Sure, why not? It generates tourism and makes the city not look like shit. Even those rusty metal statues are more interesting than yet another Walmart. People go to visit Barcelona. They go to places where some king decided to blow a wad on a cathedral. They don't go to hang out in places that don't spend money on art because what's the point?

    State-supported art is the next best thing to living beside genuine weirdos.

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    That's an interesting point vineris, but...
    The monuments of the past were undertaken and funded with an entirely different system to the fund of money set aside for the high priest mandarins of post modern culture to play with.

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    Exactly. To allocate public funds for art "the state" will appoint that same gang of academicians who seem to feel art's primary function is to alienate as large a swath of that same public footing the bills as possible. It's a long way from the great programs of painting and sculpture of Renaissance Florence.

    In fact, I'm reminded of an esteemed instructor of mine who talked to us one day about a sculptor friend who got the commission from a certain large municipal center to do a piece for public display commemorating a favorite son, a celebrated poet. My teacher was dismayed when he saw the finished work, because he could find no aesthetic merit in the piece whatsoever. When he broached his concern with his friend, the sculptor explained the criteria the city officials gave him in their own words; "Large, colorful, and essentially meaningless."

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    Are you saying that the contemporary art, rusty blocks and blank canvasses are the result of state funding? My impression was that the movement was caused by artists trying to be controversial .. much like the impressionists did. Nobody paid them for that.

    It bothers me that you have to be aware of an "art community" such as this one here to find good artists. Before CA, I had never heard of Frank Frazetta. As with film and music, popular interest CAN be directed through state funding. An example would be the BBC, taxpayer funded, which produces loads of valuable documentaries and programs that would otherwise not find any sponsors. While it opposes a strict market oriented culture, many people benefit and support the BBC exactly for being, say, not hollywood.

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    Work like that may not have started with state funding, but that sort of work is now what state funding will primarily seek out; or maybe the problem is it's the rusty block/black canvas type of artists who are primarily seeking out state funding, having failed in the marketplace.

    That's all good for music and film and state funding, but in state funding for visual art the criteria is set by either academicians seeking to shock and offend, or at least confuse, or bureaucrats seeking bland space-filler. "at least I'm sure 'tis so" in the good ol' USA.

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    i definitely think big galleries should be free. ie state funded. and state money should be used to buy the best paintings to hang in them.

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    Here in WA State, we have a mandatory set aside of 1/2% of the budget for any public works/construction projects "for art."

    The bleeding of the tax payer's dollar to prop up all manner of godawful Po Mo garbage shows me one thing:

    This program should be "terminated with extreme prejudice."

    Last edited by Kamber Parrk; August 26th, 2012 at 03:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    i definitely think big galleries should be free. ie state funded. and state money should be used to buy the best paintings to hang in them.
    I'd guess I'd be good with the poor folk being able to use their EBT to get into the SAM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LordLouis View Post

    It bothers me that you have to be aware of an "art community" such as this one here to find good artists. Before CA, I had never heard of Frank Frazetta. As with film and music, popular interest CAN be directed through state funding. An example would be the BBC, taxpayer funded, which produces loads of valuable documentaries and programs that would otherwise not find any sponsors. While it opposes a strict market oriented culture, many people benefit and support the BBC exactly for being, say, not hollywood.
    This is odd statement. Because of Hollywood, that's how I heard of Frank Frazetta. Granted, for hire works you don't see the artists' name but it was because of easy exposure to movies and entertainment I was able to find a lot of artists. That and Google. CA helped too, but even before I heard of CA it was pretty easy to find a lot of artists.

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    PoMo EBT, Sam?
    No idea what any of that means, but instantly and solely connecting publically funded art with turds in the mall is bogus:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Gallery

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_Lottery_Fund

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    PoMo EBT, Sam?
    No idea what any of that means, but instantly and solely connecting publically funded art with turds in the mall is bogus:

    Post Modern, Electronic Benefits Transfer, Seattle Art Museum

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    I'd rather think of it as the "state buying art for its citizens" rather then "supporting"
    The state uses tax money to buy (subsidize) education, food, protection, etc. and culture and art are as staple as the rest in my opinion.
    I think the more relevant question would be to what degree and how should the government invest in culture. I tend to agree with Chris about providing the forum and not supporting the content. I also think much of the money invested into arts is wasted on keeping self-centered artists alive rather then severing the common needs.
    hope it makes sense...

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    only the part about severing the common needs: throughout history artists have been paid far too much, its time to cut em off!

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    I don't have a problem with the state spending money to maintain museums or protect the works in them but this thing of giving out grant money to people who could never make it on their own needs to stop.

    Most of the great art in museums has been donated by rich patrons for tax incentives anyway. They usually deed it to the state in perpetuity. The state maintains the work, the museum, pays staff, puts on traveling shows and increases public awareness for the art.

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    Visit Washington DC.

    View the Lincoln Memorial... a work of staggering genius and power.

    Then view the gummy, misproportioned, ill-conceived MLK statue... and weep for what we have lost as a culture.

    We should not waste a cent creating monuments to our own intellectual and cultural degradation.

    At least Icarus tried!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    This is odd statement. Because of Hollywood, that's how I heard of Frank Frazetta. Granted, for hire works you don't see the artists' name but it was because of easy exposure to movies and entertainment I was able to find a lot of artists. That and Google. CA helped too, but even before I heard of CA it was pretty easy to find a lot of artists.
    It's not so much that you can't find people on google- what I mean is popularity in common media. I will just assume now that you were, at the time, involved in making art in some form (correct me if I'm wrong). For example, musicians like Jeremy Soule and Hans Zimmer have gotten more popularity in recent years as music producers for movies and games. The concept artists on the other hand seem much less known- at least they are not advertised as such.
    It's entirely based on my own experience, of course.

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    In the good ‘ol days the guy who was best at drawing pictures or telling stories or singing songs was given dispensation from water carrying and humping the logs about.

    But today’s abstracted society means that funding the arts has become a complicated, hazy, unaccountable form of nepotism. The quality of what is supported is never strain tested by the number of smiles or tears from those watching around the camp fire. It is simply defended by those anxious to keep the temple shut on those they are fooling into laying money at its door.

    Last edited by Chris Bennett; August 26th, 2012 at 02:22 PM.
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    Hmmmm...always an interesting topic. I like Chris' idea about supporting the forum but not the content (if I understand what you mean by the "forum" Chris?). At the same time the forum will generate content so...kind of hard to separate.

    Personally I like the big metal and rock stuff...a lot of it anyway, certainly not all. I look at stuff like that as modern stonehengey things or temples and markers of ancient or future/alien civilations.

    In the long run I think art is as important, if not more so, than most other human endeavors. It is by far the oldest evidence of human communication and expression as well as the key to opening the future (try designing something without first knowing what it will look like).

    So the problem centers on what does the state support? Personally I would much rather the state support art than sports. New stadiums every few years suck. Now if everyone could go watch the millionaires play for the billionaire's team for free that would be different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    . At the same time the forum will generate content so...kind of hard to separate.
    So the problem centers on what does the state support? Personally I would much rather the state support art than sports. New stadiums every few years suck. Now if everyone could go watch the millionaires play for the billionaire's team for free that would be different.
    Well Jeff, interesting you mention sports stadiums.
    I see 'the forum' as a kind of art stadium. 'Art centres' where concerts, exhibitions and discussion can take place run by a democracy of PRACTICING artists.
    It wouldn't be perfect but it would filter out a lot of bullshit.

    I mean, look at this place, CA. Certainly a lot of nonsense gets aired but it is reasonably self regulating. We survive, on the whole, by the persusiveness of our words, deeds and works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    Well Jeff, interesting you mention sports stadiums.
    I see 'the forum' as a kind of art stadium. 'Art centres' where concerts, exhibitions and discussion can take place run by a democracy of PRACTICING artists.
    It wouldn't be perfect but it would filter out a lot of bullshit.
    Agreed...but it seems to me that is close to what is already in place?
    Many of the people sitting on decision making boards are artists or at least related to the arts in some fashion. Which actually begs the question maybe there should be more lay-people involved anyway?

    Really though there should be some distinctions drawn between state supported arts, public sculpture, fountains, parks, plazas and architecture, etc.

    As far as "public art in public spaces" those typically involve large scale sculptural works - for obvious reasons. The calls for submission are generally very open, it just tends to be a limited number of people who practice, and are able to practice in that particularly rare arena. That kind of work is difficult to sell and market privately, again for obvious reasons. Anyone may enter that arena however since it doesn't cost much to design and create scale models of proposals.

    Anyway, not sure if that adds much to the discussion but...I defintiely don't agree with artists receiving "grants" which fund their private work. If an individual's private work cannot carry itself in the market it does not deserve funding. As far as the public art aspect though, that is a highly competitive marketplace involving challenging materials, scale and installation and I don't see it as very different from contractors who bid on building government buildings.

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    WA State spent $268,000 on this PoMo tree stump at the height of the recession:



    The Legislature was outraged-- outraged that the money went to a New York City artist! Then, the law was changed so that such boondoggle spending would only benefit in-State artists-- there, take that you big city elitists!

    http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.co...ts_grants.html

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    Historically, art has generally survived through the patronage of wealthy institutions and individuals. Yes, you get what the big money wants, but that does provide a window on what a certain segment of society values. As someone has already pointed out, public art is something that makes a place worth visiting, and in the long term pays for itself. So, yes, I think the state should fund art at least to a certain level.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I defintiely don't agree with artists receiving "grants" which fund their private work. If an individual's private work cannot carry itself in the market it does not deserve funding. As far as the public art aspect though, that is a highly competitive marketplace involving challenging materials, scale and installation and I don't see it as very different from contractors who bid on building government buildings.
    Depends what is meant by 'the arts', but yes, the State should. My wife applied for an Arts Council grant and received one to fund her writing. She is experienced at applying for grants as she's had to do it professionally, so knows the 'ins and outs'. This enabled her to go on a course with some extremely well known authors as tutors, which gave her time to develop and find her skills. Her first novel has now won a huge literary competition in the UK and has been picked up by Harper Collins for publication in March. So I have a degree of bias here, but I think a State that doesn't fund 'the arts' on some level is a State with little soul, and has lost touch with people on a fundamental level. Are people ONLY allowed to be artists if they have the money to be one? Yes you can point at some of the absurdities in publicly funded art, there are plenty of absurdities in privately funded art too. Art will be absurd! Public grants provide opportunity for many who would otherwise not have it, and to me there is little difference in an adult getting a grant to fund artistic work than there is with a student getting a public grant to go and fund their artistic higher education. But hey, that's been decimated now, so public money isn't even available for higher education grants.

    One of the things that frustrates me about 'should or shouldn't' arguments is the lack of space for grey areas. Arts Councils and public money should have a system that looks at each application on its own merits, not have a blanket and possibly arbitrary 'should or shouldn't'. The National Film Council in the UK was recently destroyed by the Tories, a publicly funded body that supported film making in the UK. Even Clint Eastwood, not exactly known for his 'leftie' values thought this was criminal and wrote to David Cameron to say as much. Really sad...

    Last edited by Aly Fell; August 31st, 2012 at 07:03 AM. Reason: expanding
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    I'm feeling like this a baby with the bath water argument. Should we just throw out everything that isn't working? It's done some real good here. Funded some really bad stuff but also some good. The idea isn't broken, maybe get involved and find a better way to make it work.

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    Yes and no...I don't think people should have their way paid for, but some form of economic reimbursement for education would be nice, if the artist spent a percentage of time educating other artists or building big rock sculptures and giving them at cost to towns lacking such things.

    I like big rock and metal sculptures btw.

    Seattle's sculpture park was one of my favorite places when I was really small. You have to be small to appreciate some of these sculptures. I like the ones that have accessibility to children.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    In the good ‘ol days the guy who was best at drawing pictures or telling stories or singing songs was given dispensation from water carrying and humping the logs about.

    But today’s abstracted society means that funding the arts has become a complicated, hazy, unaccountable form of nepotism. The quality of what is supported is never strain tested by the number of smiles or tears from those watching around the camp fire. It is simply defended by those anxious to keep the temple shut on those they are fooling into laying money at its door.
    Maybe we should all come with a birth certificate and a Like/Dislike button.

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