aside The Right’s Hatred For The N.E.A. Is A Threat To Future Funding

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1There are a few republican boogeyman organizations conservatives have been wanting to dismantle like Planned Parenthood and the National Endowment for the Arts (N.E.A.). The hatred for the both these entities by the right has nothing to do with facts, how well and efficiently management run them or the benefits both engender. Typically, the rationalization for eliminating any federal funds being allocated to the N.E.A. is the savings of taxpayer monies.

In anticipation of future attacks on the N.E.A. that Thomas P. Campbell, the director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has penned a 2/22/17 NY Times op-ed piece on 2/22/17, “The Folly of Abolishing the N.E.A.”

Excerpts:

This week, curators and conservators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art are in Beijing working with Chinese colleagues to pack these (small vases recently discovered from the Han Dynasty, about 2000 years ago) and other objects for transportation to New York, where they will be featured in an exhibition this spring. Supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the exhibition, “Age of Empires,” will teach our visitors about the origins of China, the superpower that is now playing a major role in the balance of world power and trade.”

“Although the N.E.A. grant was a small part of the exhibition’s overall budget, it was crucial in persuading others to add their support. Similar grants have helped the Met mount exhibitions on the art of Jerusalem, India, Korea, Islam, Africa and Afghanistan.”Image result for photos of Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Sadly, it has become clear that the N.E.A. is, once again, under threat of being abolished, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities. The purported reason is cost savings.”

“All too often, art is seen as a “soft” subject, the first thing to be cut, whether by local school boards or the federal government, when money is tight. But looked at purely in dollars, it is a false saving. The N.E.A.’s budget is comparatively minuscule — $148 million last year, or 0.004 percent of annual federal discretionary expenditures — while the arts sector it supports employs millions of Americans and generates billions each year in revenue and tax dollars.”

“Exhibition on Michelangelo that will bring together masterpieces from across the world. The insurance valuation is a whopping $2.4 billion — not even our museum, the largest art museum in the nation, could come close to paying the premium for such coverage without the federal indemnity the N.E.A. makes possible.”Image result for photos of Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The grants, of course, receive the most attention, if not as much as they deserve. Thousands are distributed in all 50 states, reaching every congressional district, urban and rural, rich and poor. The N.E.A. leverages its tiny budget by giving out grants that require recipients to raise matching funds from other donors. Grants average $26,000 and require a one-to-one match for every federal dollar.”

“While this may sound small, it reflects the shoestring budgets on which many local organizations depend. These grants sustain the arts in areas where people don’t have access to major institutions like the Met. They support live theater for schools; music, dance and jazz festivals; poetry and literary events; arts programs for veterans; and, of course, museum exhibitions.”Related image

“Claiming that N.E.A. cuts are purely for cost savings conceals a deeper, more partisan agenda. The last time the N.E.A. was this under fire was during the 1990s, when funding was challenged for artists and institutions that refused to conform to a narrow definition of propriety. Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center, which showed Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs, and its director were charged with obscenity. “

“I fear that this current call to abolish the N.E.A. is the beginning of a new assault on artistic activity. Arts and cultural programming challenges, provokes and entertains; it enhances our lives. Eliminating the N.E.A. would in essence eliminate investment by the American government in the curiosity and intelligence of its citizens. As the planet becomes at once smaller and more complex, the public needs a vital arts scene, one that will inspire us to understand who we are and how we got here — and one that will help us to see other countries, like China, not as enemies in a mercenary trade war but as partners in a complicated world.”Image result for photos of Metropolitan Museum of Art

“In six weeks, dignitaries from nations around the world will gather at the Met for the opening of “Age of Empires.” And then, thousands of visitors will file into the museum, and they, too, will experience the thrill I had four years ago on that muddy flat in rural China. Even better, they will see these treasures in a historical and artistic context, so that when they leave they will have that much more understanding of China, from its ancient origins to its modern power.”

“Thanks, in part, to N.E.A. support.”

3 comments

  1. Gronda, here is a simple reason that defunding the NEA is ludicrous. Innovation occurs in the intersections of disciplines. If we diminish art, then we take a key part of innovation, whether it be novel writing to sculpting to painting to music. Steve Jobs often said taking a calligraphy class was one of the best courses he ever took as it taught him how to make things elegant and appealing, even to the insides of the computer.

    One final thought. Kids who learn music tend to grasp math better. So, there are some translatable skills as well. Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      The conservative’s hatred for the N.E.A. has nothing to do with what is the right thing to do. These folks have a penchant on group think that is baffling like their denial of climate change.

      To me, their should be more funding for the N.E.A. because it is monies well spent. It is an investment.

      Ciao, Gronda

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