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So we should take their money from them for a purpose they don't value, but we do? I'm sure you didn't mean to say that.
I'm sure anyone who believes in a representative democracy and in some form of citizens' taxation would mean to say exactly that, actually.

The priniciple of this has been sorely tested in the UK with the referendum on membership of the EU. But it tends to be on only the big stuff that people argue about what we should spend our taxes on. It's a long time since I heard anyone make much of a fuss about 'wasting public money on funding the arts' - if ever. More than once I've heard the argument that we shouldn't waste money on public education!
 

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My personal view - and this is backed up by some evidence - is that government funding of arts can enrich the lives and improve the educational experience and attainment of deprived children and adults.

I therefore prefer to see scarce money put into grassroots music and arts education schemes, over subsidising e.g. symphony orchestra performances or opera. Though not necessarily over funding other government responsibilities.
I don't know who these deprived children and adults are but certainly hear funding for arts mainly benefits the educated middle classes. I'm not saying that's a bad thing as I am one of those who benefits but the fact is that most working-class people are not interested in arts.
I would like to see, however, money given only to truly creative art rather than the bogus artists who produce unmade beds as art!
 

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A common argument or implied belief in many of the comments that have been made in this thread is that subsidies are needed to make the Arts accessible to more people, by reducing their cost and increasing their availability. It has also been suggested that governments, the Church, or very rich people, have financed a large part of the Arts (in all its shapes and forms) that the world now possesses. In order to replace these former main sources of funding, it is argued that Government should step in and take over those roles in the form of subsidies.

I do not believe that this argument is justified by the historical evidence for the United Kingdom, at least not over the past 500+ years since the Reformation. In the UK religious institutions, the aristocracy, Church and governments have played a different role from that of their Continental equivalents. The theatre flourished in Britain from the end of the 16th century because it attracted a large paying audience, especially in London. The public concert was largely a British invention in the mid-17th century, presumably because the audience was available in large enough numbers due to the growing affluence of the lower/middle classes as people started to drift away from the land towards more urban areas. In the visual arts, the various institutions have had also little influence in Britain ever since the Reformation. For example, The Church of England has never been a patron of the arts in anything but a minor way. There was patronage from the aristocracy before about the middle of the 18th century, but from that time forward the demand for paintings was largely met by artists meeting private commissions, or selling uncommisioned works through dealers.

It therefore seems to be an implausible argument that the market-based artistic systems, which flourished for centuries in Britain until well into the 20th C, in periods when incomes were far smaller than they are today, cannot now survive without government subsidies. In truth, the main likely effect of most subsidies to the Arts is to change the nature of the arts that are produced. The subsidised works will probably displace some of the unsubsidised works in theatres and concert halls etc. This is because the subsidised producers need not be concerned about the audience to the same extent, and can charge less for admission, thereby diverting customer traffic that might otherwise have gone elsewhere. Not only that but, perversely, this reduced dependence on the audience by the subsidised sector may have made some of the Arts more elitist, so that they are freer to produce whatever takes their fancy rather than what the customers would ideally want and be prepared to pay for.

The only arguments in support of subsidy to the Arts that may be viable are those which I set out in previous posts, based on so-called "externality benefits". These are essentially of an economic nature in that they relate to possible increases in National Income that may result from subsidising certain sectors of the economy out of general taxation. Normally, a subsidy has only a re-distributional effect (which may be desirable in its own right on grounds of equity) but with no major impact on National Income. Only if "externality benefits" can be identified will there be any expected gain in National Income, and this is what is required in order to justify a subsidy out of general taxation towards an elite sector such as the Arts.

Here, I can only repeat what I said earlier, that some of the so-called "externality benefits" that have been put forward are bogus, and most others are difficult to quantity. Among the most bogus of suggestions that I have spotted in this thread is the notion that by shoving more Art towards the "working classes" will somehow be a benefit to Society as a whole. This assumes that they don't know how to spend their incomes in a way that maximises their own well-being, but that Government does and so this sector is going to be given more Art for free for their own good in the hope that they like it. Of course, the "middle/upper" classes are the main source of finance for such a programme, and the fact their incomes will be reduced on account of the extra taxation required, doesn't even get a mention. That's because "money grows on trees", according to some of these tax and pay advocates .
 

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PBS, NPR, etc. should be regarded as being as valuable as our national parks. Ken Burns' documentaries, as well as The American Experience, NOVA, Nature, Masterpiece Theater, etc., are part of our shared public patrimony, our gifts to ourselves. (I also urge everyone to contribute generously to your local public stations!)
 

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I don't know who these deprived children and adults are but certainly hear funding for arts mainly benefits the educated middle classes. I'm not saying that's a bad thing as I am one of those who benefits but the fact is that most working-class people are not interested in arts.
I would like to see, however, money given only to truly creative art rather than the bogus artists who produce unmade beds as art!
Um...what can I say? Tracy Emin is a fine contemporary artist whose work is often moving and thought provoking. I've enjoyed several of her exhibitions.
 
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To me, life is unlivable without the arts. It should be the final result of everything the human race strives for. I don't live to work; I work to earn the money to live. By "live" I mean going out and enjoying life and, while there are many ways to do that, the most worthwhile is the arts. I say the govt should fund the arts to a degree simply because it's part of any basic education.

And while I agree that it SHOULD be up to the people to elect those representatives to fund the arts the way we want them to, it's WAY more complicated than that. Well, not, complicated--chaotic. So chaotic that no one running for office is going to stand up in front of a podium in a public forum and say we should set money aside to fund the arts. Immediately, opponents will trot out garbage stories about Robert Mapplethorpe (who is actually a very good photographer) and the guy with the crucifix in a jar of urine (obviously, he's never created any other works of art). As though this is all the NEA does.

In American culture, we have turned the NEA into the enemy of the people and the NRA into our friend. One is cold, cynical and uses our money to rot our (white Anglo-Saxon) culture from the inside out and the other just wants to protect us from those who want to hurt us (i.e. ourselves). Although, lately, I haven't seen many people mowed down by a jar of urine.
 

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The support of the arts and creative workers in Austria:
http://www.culturalpolicies.net/web/austria.php?aid=813
Some of these grants come from the Arts and Culture Division in the Federal Chancellery.

Support of the arts in Austria? Who would have thunk it? ;) Maybe Mozart and Schubert. It's heartwarming even just to read all that Austria offers its artists... but somehow what I would have expected from them considering their stellar history.

Imagine the US having its 'Arts and Culture Division' and the different tone it would set in the country regarding the arts, instead of trying to undermine what little arts support at a national level that we already have in PBS and NPR.
 

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Discussion Starter · #132 · (Edited)
...Imagine the US having its 'Arts and Culture Division' and the different tone it would set in the country regarding the arts.
If memory serves, there was formerly a very large country, partly in Europe, that financially supported its composers and performing musicians almost 100%. Admirable! Of course in such a situation, a bad review can be a serious thing. :eek:
 

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Why are Americans so hostile to state-funded art:
https://newrepublic.com/article/142925/americans-hostile-state-funded-art

The common view of the arts in America is that if everyone doesn't enjoy them, then they should not be funded by the State. The other point of view is that the arts and humanities should be supported as something awaiting to be discovered by the public that represents the best in humanity, beauty, accomplishment, contributions and refinements to society, as a counterbalance to the materialistic commercialism in the media, as an avenue of recognition, enjoyment and inspiration-something of worth in & of itself that enhances the quality of life of the nation as a whole as part of the general climate... the creative atmosphere, whether appreciated by everyone or not.

From the article:

On May 23, 2017, the Trump administration requested that Congress close the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, the premier government organizations for funding arts, scholarship, and culture in the United States. The NEH and the NEA, despite commanding a tiny fraction of the federal government's budget, have long been on the GOP's kill list, since conservatives consider them to be a complete waste of taxpayer money. The organizations responded with a level head. Instead of evangelizing for the arts and humanities as essential components of a nation of grandeur, an official for the NEH stated that "from Greenville, South Carolina, to Red Cloud, Nebraska, and beyond," the organization has "inspired and preserved what is best in American culture."

The $450,000,000 in funds for the NEH and NEA are approximately this percentage of the proposed $4.1 trillion 2018 US Federal Budget: 0.0001125 percent.

$4.1 trillion looks like this: $4,100,000,000,000.
 

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Discussion Starter · #135 · (Edited)
I'm really at a loss why people think a waste of money is OK if it's only a small waste. How about send 10% of that $450 million to me? You'll never notice, it won't hurt a bit. OK?

BTW Beethoven seems to have been a crypto-commie in this regard. "There should be a single Art Exchange in the world, to which the artist would simply send his works and be given in return as much as he needs. As it is, one has to be half a merchant on top of everything else, and how badly one goes about it."

He would certainly back the NEA if he could get his grants! More generally, though, he might want to chat with Shostakovich about how these sorts of things tend to work out.*

Third thought: Good public policy says that tax money should be spent to benefit the largest portion of the citizenry, especially those that need some help. Let's see. Rap fans are (I assume) generally poorer than classical fans. There are likely many more of them as well. Finally, the cost of tickets to good rap concerts is cruelly high, and the CDs in demand are going for full price. Classical music, by comparison, is comparatively cheap.

The conclusion is inescapable. Tax money would be far better spent to subsidize the cost of rap music than classical.

*Or Aaron Copland, whose Lincoln Portrait was dropped from Eisenhower's first inauguration because of doubts about his political reliability.
 

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I'm really at a loss why people think a waste of money is OK if it's only a small waste. How about send 10% of that $450 million to me? You'll never notice, it won't hurt a bit. OK?
Interesting though some of the comments in this thread have been, I have a sneaking suspicion that the population being sampled here might not be quite as representative of the voting population at large as one might ideally desire. To that extent, a modicum of bias in the results is to be expected. Personally, I wouldn't trust the results any further than I could hurl a grand piano across a stage floor.
 

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Interesting though some of the comments in this thread have been, I have a sneaking suspicion that the population being sampled here might not be quite as representative of the voting population at large as one might ideally desire. To that extent, a modicum of bias in the results is to be expected. Personally, I wouldn't trust the results any further than I could hurl a grand piano across a stage floor.
Your level of trust, then, must be judged by our perceptions of your physical strength.
 

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Third thought: Good public policy says that tax money should be spent to benefit the largest portion of the citizenry, especially those that need some help.
Let's see ... many cities spend upwards of $100M on attracting and keeping sports teams. The last I saw, those teams were definitely not starving for money. Classical music, by comparison, is comparatively cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #139 · (Edited)
Let's see ... many cities spend upwards of $100M on attracting and keeping sports teams. The last I saw, those teams were definitely not starving for money. Classical music, by comparison, is comparatively cheap.
Up to the cities I guess. Their choice, I don't pay taxes to them. The federal government, I do. So I take more of an interest in that, not surprisingly.

But the cities' outlays for stadiums has a justification: the "indirect economic multiplier." If they can pull in people from outside the city limits, the city prospers. Consider:

The visitor eats at a local restaurant. Each dollar is spent on food suppliers, tips, and so forth, including the owner's profit. The waiter's tip is spent on cocaine from a local supplier, so the dealer now has more money to spend in the city on gold chains or whatever. The owner's additional profit allows him to buy that Bentley he's been wanting.

The cost of the Bentley contributes to the car salesman's commission, so that he can now buy more cocaine as well. The dealership's owner can now pay a bigger bribe to a city councilman to get than lot next door rezoned so that he can expand his dealership.

The councilman can now afford addiction treatment for his cocaine-addicted son, pouring even more money into the local community. And so forth.

Justifications for stadium and similar projects depend on this "indirect economic multiplier," which is estimated variously at up to six dollars for every new dollar spent in the local community. Do you believe it?
 

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I think it's reasonable to suggest that governments ought to spend tax revenue to increase the public good. The public good is certainly not simply a financial calculation in that people desire many non-monetary things. So the problem is deciding what constitutes the public good and how much money ought to be spent to increase each component. Budgets have been created and modified over many years so much spending is based on previous decisions. Creating a budget from scratch would be a daunting task for all of us.

In some sense each line item (defense, education, science, technology, arts, etc.) must "justify" itself. Defense and education are probably high on just about everyone's list, but other areas may vary greatly. Becca mentioned sports (presumably the large city spending on facilities). Purely financial justifications for stadiums seem to fall short of breakeven, but do other aspects of sports teams justify the expense?

I was a particle physicist when the Superconducting Supercollider was proposed in the US. In my opinion (and many others) that facility would have answered the most important, answerable, purely scientific question of the time. The price tag was rather high ($10B US in the early 90s plus operational costs). Ultimately the US declined to continue funding the facility, and a similar collider, which did answer the question, was built in Europe. How important is pure science for society? There are excellent financial and human reasons to pursue such endeavors, but there are also arguments to constrain such funding.

Certain groups in society seem to consider the arts as fundamental to human existence. During my education, there were always requirements to take arts/humanities courses. I think there are strong arguments to suggest that the arts are a fundamental aspect of being human, and society should fund the arts at some level. Maybe just arts education should be funded. Maybe some funding should be available for what is generically considered the "great arts." But ultimately, society (individuals collectively) must determine both the amount and focus of such funding.
 
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