Well, someone has pork on the brain, anyway. Photo: Jason Brackins.

While I’m discussing the potential to take new directions in the arts and technology worldwide, and about ways in which creative technology can help repair the global economy, I’d be remiss if I didn’t make one sobering concession:

To many policy makers, the “arts” don’t count as the economy. If you’re employed as an artist, (and by extension in creative fields), you’re not a worker. Um… thanks?

Never mind that in the US alone, nearly 6 million people are employed in the arts – or that that figure itself is  probably wildly conservative, compared to the many more creative freelancers and the economies around them. (Ask companies like Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Avid, and Apple, who then sell products to musicians, many of them pros.)

It’s not just a US problem, either. The Dutch government – just the kind of liberal European government decried by American conservatives – had to be convinced of the value of its music technology research center in 2008.

To me, this shouldn’t be an issue that pits liberals versus conservatives. In fact, important issues around the economy have always been solved by cooperation between people of different political persuasions and parties. Unfortunately, conservatives have decided to declare the arts “liberal.”

The Heritage Foundation claims funding for the arts amounts to “pork.” Leading Republican Jeff Flake, when asked for an example of pork in the current proposed economic stimulus bill, replies:

"For example, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts," Flake says. "There’s no better example than that. How that stimulates the economy, I don’t know."

Does ‘Pork-Less’ Stimulus Bear Porcine Whiff? [NPR]

Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some pork in there – but the NEA funding is all Rep. Flake can come up with? This seems to be less about policy and more about reigniting culture wars.

Specifically, the conservative talking point is to focus on “productivity” and producing goods. The implication: if your job involves the arts, you’re not a “productive” member of society. (I’ll have to scratch my head to work out just what “goods” the financiers buying up bundled debt were producing. I’ll get back to you on that one.)

Of course, the way in which arts funding would stimulate the economy is obviously the way any other part of a stimulus package would – by providing support to people doing work in a field during rough times, support that in this case provides an educational and cultural resource shared by everyone. Ironically, part of the reason these aren’t arts jobs for individuals is that the US long ago eliminated direct funding for individual artists, a move designed to placate conservatives opposed to arts funding.

Yet for some conservatives, the arts have been used as a key talking point, even though it’s $50 million out of an $875 billion bill. That’s a tiny fraction of one percent of the funding, like arguing over the number of pennies in the tip on a $1500 steak dinner. Now, I’m all for some genuine fiscal conservatism – it’s badly needed in these economic times. And likewise, I would hope the opposition party in Washington is tough on the Administration plan. But where are those conservatives? Why are they beating up on a tiny line item over philosophical reasons? In the past, conservatives and Republicans had long been patrons and supporters of the arts. We could use some old-fashioned conservatism right now if we’re going to save the planet and its economy.

If you want to stimulate the economy, you invest in jobs, in making actual goods. In 2008, the US taxpayer funded hundreds of billions of dollars in handouts to the failed finance sector that singlehandedly created the economic crisis. Billions of those dollars wound up ending up as executive bonuses.

But, guess what? If you’re an artist, if you’re a creative person, you don’t even count as a person with a job.

I bring this up because if you do live in the US, you can call your Representative tomorrow and tell them what you think about this issue. It’s especially important if you’re a Republican or a conservative, because I think there are more important points to be made – and this can distract from them. This could be a bipartisan issue again. And for everyone else, we clearly – as an artistic community – have some messaging to work on. We can’t allow this to be a political issue, a wedge issue. And as former NEA chair Bill Ivey puts it:

"Once we move away from a consumerist view of a high quality of life — once we’re forced away from it — arts and culture, creativity, homemade art, those things can begin to come to the fore."

Stimulus Package Includes Millions For The Arts [NPR]

  • <cite>we clearly – as an artistic community – have some messaging to work on.</cite>

    This is a great point. In essence, I think that the challenge is to redefine profit to mean that which contributes to the health and well-being of ourselves and those we live with.

    In this way activities of non-profit organizations, including the arts, will be redefined as "profitable". And, many currently "profitable" activities, such as making duplicate aircraft carriers and umpteen quarter-pounders, with be seen as "not profitable".

    I think, however, that the horse must draw the cart towards this transformation. In other words, it's up to artists and musicians to simply start finding ways to apply their skills to beneficial situations, tangibly and visibly. For example, if you live in Massachusetts and have a guitar or a portable keyboard rig, consider volunteering with Horizons for Homeless Children, where you can influence a new generation of music makers.

    The notion of volunteer work need not be laborious either. It takes the creative vision of an artist to imagine new ways to connect what we love to do with the needs of our communities.

  • a123

    Do you really thing that conservatives think, "If you’re an artist, if you’re a creative person, you don’t even count as a person with a job" ????

    If you look at NEA incentives and grants listed on their website, it is pretty hard to make the case that any of them are stimulating the economy. Not that they aren't good programs, I just don't see how they warrant additional funding due to their potential to help the economy.

    In my mind, it doesn't matter if its 50 milllion or 50 cents, its not their fucking money and they better have a good fucking reason for every penny they spend of ours.

    I think your reaction to the NPR article is misconstrued.

  • justin

    As someone who works at a large arts non-profit that has received NEA money, I agree wholeheartedly. We like to talk big in this country about funding math and science as things we need to focus more on, which is laudable. But we forget that math and science are creative activities that have much crossover with artistic expression. To fund one while neglecting the other would be a gross disservice.

    And, by the way, the NEA money that we got was a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost of what we produced. But it was an important step and validation of the work that we were implementing.

  • @a123: Look, of course there's an argument to be made and potential spending, and healthy skepticism is a good idea. So why is it all aimed at $50 million for the NEA? It is your money — absolutely. If I take $100 out of your wallet, will you debate one penny of that or the other $99.99 first?

    If government spending on other industry sectors stimulates the economy, then investing a relatively small amount in the arts should, too. Of course, it is debatable what these "stimulus" packages do in practice, but you can't single out arts spending and say other direct aid to workers in other sectors is productive and the arts aren't. The numbers simply prove otherwise.

    And yes, unfortunately, I do think that's what some policy leaders think about this. The reason the NEA can't directly impact the economy is partly because its hands have been tied as it bends over backwards to avoid funding artists directly and has to constantly rationalize its cultural and communal relevance.

    It's absolutely worth debating, on a fundamental level, how arts relate to government spending and where economic stimulus actually works. I'm all for that debate — and it's well worth debating what arts spending works, too. But when that gets singled out of an entire spending bill that's nearly a trillion dollars, I think there's a reason to take it personally. That's how it was intended.

  • AL:

    Meanwhile, here in Canada we're saddled with a conservative government who think funding the arts should extend no further than giving parents a $50 tax break on piano lessons for their kids…

    Conservatives think its easy to pick fights with artists, because artists won't fight back (bunch of wishy washy liberal peace-nick bleeding hearts that we are)

  • Dave

    So let's see.. musicians need equipment, studios, audio engineers, cd and vinyl pressing plants, designers and publicists, booking agents, bars, stadiums, concert venues, ticket agents, distribution channels, record labels, websites, stylists, roadies, shipping companies and on and on.

    Not to mention movie scores, foley, adr, television commercials, television shows, advertising, video games, theatre productions, art installations, public events, tourism etc etc.. none of them need any music. nope.

    I'm sure if all the music and the musicians in the world disappeared tomorrow, the world would be in for a shock. But I forgot.. musicians don't contribute to the economy. Screw em.

    The real problems are the woefully inaccurate perceptions that the music (recording) industry is just a handful of big labels selling records to consumers. The real music industry is far more complex than that, but until the public's perceptions change, nothing else will change.

  • I'm going to defend "conservatives," for this reason: I don't think that arbitrarily bashing the arts is any more "conservative" than making music or dance or theater is "liberal." The arts are part of our culture – no one would argue with that. And fiscal conservatism – opposition to debt spending – is a natural part of the balance of government, and something we could very often use more of. Simply moving the arts to last place while supporting deficit spending on other programs without oversight – there's just not a name for that. It's certainly not conservatism by any normal definition of the word, because your debt increases in the meantime.

    I don't like when people use "liberal" as a bad word, so I'm not going to use "conservative" as a bad word, either. And if you try to make "art" a bad word, you just come off as a loser.

    I think it's well past time to move on beyond these arguments and have the really tough arguments instead. Figuring out how to stimulate an economy with a budget bill is damned hard. And there are plenty of debates we could be having about the arts – and rightfully so. The point I wish to make here is simply, just because *I'm* ready to move beyond this childishness and many of you are (on various sides of the debate) doesn't mean our elected leaders are.

    So it's worth picking up the phone and giving them a piece of your mind.

  • a123

    You want the real conservatives to stand up? The real conservatives don't want any bailout bill at all. I don't see how anyone can say they deserve a dollar out of my pocket more than I do.

    If you want to live the your life thinking that conservatives or whoever doesn't like you cause your an artist, or black, or fat, or bald, or gay, or whatever that is your choice. But it is an ignorant notion for ignorant people which is why your party has been selling that line of bull for so long.

    IRT Canada:

    "For the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2009, Parliament has voted to spend more than $4 billion on cultural programs, including the CBC, the Canada Arts Council, the National Gallery of Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage. That amount is $660 million or 19.7 per cent more than was spent in fiscal 2006, the last year when the Liberals controlled the purse strings.

    "Overall program spending during that same period is up 18.6 per cent. In other words, Conservatives have boosted spending on arts programs faster than they have boosted overall government spending,"


  • Dave

    Arts funding is very complicated and distributed across multiple sectors of the economy. Non-profit, public, and private organizations all contribute to and constrain how art gets paid for in the US and abroad.

    It's quite funny that we make such a big deal about the NEA, since we should focus more on (and thank) non-profits like the Ford Foundation for giving us much of the arts infrastructure we appreciate today here in the US (PBS for example or the entire field of non-profit theaters).

    On a side note, I really like the above quote:
    "And, by the way, the NEA money that we got was a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost of what we produced. But it was an important step and validation of the work that we were implementing."

    It goes to shows that the NEA serves more as a legitimacy conferring organization (allowing smaller organizations to compete better for resources), than as a substantial funding source.

  • Here, in Belgium, the only artist our government that got to get our social protection are the performance one – those who can show that they get regular (job like) salary.
    So even people working in prostitution are more protected than the plastic artist I know (even though this work is not recognized either, but well, kind of a loophole).
    Isn't it kind of strange ? It's like all art are not equal. Some are GOOD for the capitalist mentality maybe…

  • There are similarities in France, so I guess this is just a worldwide issue.
    Anyways musicians (and associated workers) used to work for free in village festivals, between harvesting the crops and milking the cow. Then the best of them got paid. Eventually records were invented and the whole business was torn apart and reconstructed by and for record companies.
    The money involved however is sufficient that the record industry majors now are a political weight, and can lobby to get decisions coming their way. Unfortunately their position is very different from the musicians at the end of the line who had little choice when they were told something along the lines "sign up for 7 albums, we have total power over what we will use or not, if you don't like it we will then refuse all your albums and contractually you cannot even show them somewhere else". Kind of a tight situation.

    Now I agree with some of what has been said above, (would invite those who start arguing over words like liberal, conservative, Republican, capitalist, communist etc… to start by reading the original material for those words just to make sure you don't misuse them and make a real split between economical positions and social positions), but would rather think along the lines of what can be done. What leverage can be used…. are musicians enough, will the rest of the public do something? Maybe the music hardware & software industry should be involved in heavy lobbying, as they are the very impacted by any and all politics on music and their objectives are more aligned with those of the musicians (find rich musicians to sell them music equipments / buy the needed equipment and make music to earn a living) than the objectives of the current lobbiers (Sell a maximum number of albums at an optimum price and minimize cost to maximize profit…. in which equation musicians have a weight much lower than say internet policies and shipping costs).

  • stk

    My 2c..
    Now that I'm a moderately pennied artist
    I happily pay taxes to provide the kind of support to others that I benefited from when I was a penniless artist.

    Art isn't good for the economy?
    I don't pretend to know enough economics to be able to debate that one way or the other, but I sure as hell know where I'd like my tax dollar to go, and it ain't towards the ludicrous, allegedly obsolete fighter planes my government recently bought surplus from the US.
    Oh, sorry, that's right. War is actually a great economy stimulator. Silly me.

    I +1 the sentiments of someone above – I'd like to see how society fares if all the people creating new stuff, rather than perpetuating the mediocre consensual hallucination AKA Teh Economy, were to up and stop. Good luck with that, oh Mighty Herd.

  • rhowaldt

    you just cannot imagine what a boring and lifeless place this earth would be if art had never been supported. people severely underestimate the influence of art and artists, simply because their influence is not obvious. but the onion-metaphor still goes, and all of these issues (in fact, anything remotely connected to politics) is not as black-and-white as some commenters above might like to make believe.

  • I agree that we as a (global!) creative community need to try to change perceptions.

    Getting a flavour of the NEA funding issues in the US, it seems like many people perceive 'the arts' as not only outside the economy, but outside mainstream society. They perceive it as a fringe activity and don't make the very obvious connection between entertainment, advertising, cinema, commercial music, music therapy, architecture, design etc.

    I think it's partly up to us to reinforce those connections so that people begin to realise that artistic innovation is as much part of human progress as science.

  • <cite>Ask companies like Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Avid, and Apple, who then sell products to musicians, many of them pros.</cite>
    Actually, are there official numbers? What is the share of pros among buyers of Apple Logic? And what about the "pro" acoustic instruments, what's the share of pros among the paying customers? Would be interested to know if there are verified numbers.

  • chris

    Somebody got paid to design that pork label to inspire people to buy it.

  • Gavin@FAW

    Also agree about the french model. While living there I was really impressed by their assocations.
    An association is a legal entity, abit like a limited company. Full time members get status under the law the same as any other worker (health care etc). They run like a business but for non-profit.
    In Grenoble where I lived there was an association, they ran a bar with cheap bear (not for profit 🙂 ), a full recording studio upstairs, a live stage for gigs and an area for music lessons. Real hub of activity and music of all kinds was performed there 7 days a week.

  • A REAL conservative (read: Libertarian or Classical Liberal) wouldn't agree to the bill at all. The bill IS full of pork, even if this particular point made by Flake is not a good example. Creating GOVERNMENT jobs is not economic stimulus, its State expansion. It should be noted that rarely does the State ever retract after these expansions.

    Also, I see a lot of juvenile statements like redefining profit and that conservatives don't think, blah blah blah. This post is very unbecoming of CDM, and hopefully the majority of the commenters don't represent the vast majority of the readers.

  • Downpressor

    Part of the issue may be that most people just dont know what the NEA does and wont take the time to read up on the details. When I hear NEA the first thing that comes to mind is Robert Maplethorpe. I dont know exactly why, but this means I associate national arts funding with photos of men with whips up their asses.

    I'm very sure they do more than that, that they fund plenty of worthwhile things, but I'm still hesitant about too much federal involvement in the arts. As I understand Canada and France spend "more" in part with the goal of intentionally creating arts with their national/cultural flavor. The US does not have a need for the government to defend its national/cultural arts in this same way. As far as I can see, the American arts do well overseas.

    Then again this doesnt include local things which promote performance or creation at the community level. Again, I'd rather see that or arts education funding.

    FWIW, I consider myself fiscally conservative and oddly enough socially conservative but my life's choices and my own music might not make that obvious.

  • @Grant: that's exactly my point. If there were any consistency to these messages, I could respect them – even if I disagree with them. But when you single out some pocket change for the arts in a nearly trillion-dollar funding bill, that's about something else altogether.

    Of course, we get comments sometimes that don't have a lot of thought that go into them; this is an essentially unmoderated forum. I think we've gotten some intelligent answers, too, and some healthy debate. (Asking what "profit" should mean seems a reasonable question for debate, in particular, not something juvenile.) So what exactly is unbecoming of CDM about the original post?

    By the way, here's a thought on what workers provide to an economy:

    "Servers, labourers, and workmen of different kinds make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed cloath, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, cloathed, and lodged."

    Karl Marx?

    Nope: Adam Smith. Now, of course, you could (and should) debate exactly what he meant – and in this case the Heritage Foundation might debate whether artists are part of that group of workers. But the point is, the history of what we now call liberalism and conservatism is rich with a group of people who spent a lot of time thinking about and debating these problems.

    So I'm all for getting away from anything "juvenile," but let's continue to debate here. Federal spending on the arts doesn't automatically result in good, I agree – and it certainly shouldn't be the only topic. But artistic output and how it connects to a society and an economy are at the heart of what we do.

  • This is interesting, we've been having a similar conversation this week amongst the visual arts community in Milwaukee. All the above were discussed, but the thing that sticks with me the most is that However valuable something is, we still need to educate the general public about why creative thinking is so valuable to every industry and to the economy. We generally agreed that WE as artists have never been very good at making our own case. We have to come up with better "sales pitches" if you will. WE need a list of clear examples that everyone can understand and relate to in order to show how learning and experiencing art leads to innovative thinking and that THAT will help every single person and industry in the nation (and the world really) to come up with creative new solutions to problems. Send me well written examples and photos and I'll put together a presentation that we can all use to convince people.

  • Well, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "reigniting culture wars".

    A whole lot of people are sick and tired of the same old fear-mongering, left versus right mentality.

    However, these people are absolutely DWARFED by the number of people who are just fine with the old mentality (relish it, even). Just look at the numbers from the popular vote in the last election. What? like 45% of the people are cool with the way things were? Wow.

    The republicans know this, so they're out with the same old fear and doubt campaign, trying to bring just enough people back into the fold to win in the mid-term elections.

    So sure, this argument has nothing to do with art, artists or creative people. It has to do with igniting the "conservative" base via fear of elitist government spending.

    I swear the Republican party should change it's slogan to "pride in ignorance: what, you think you're better than me?"

  • Jeremy Pinnix

    As a Classical Liberal I agree with Grant Muller and a123. I support the arts with my private funds. I don't want to give my money to the government for them to decide who the money goes to. The Heritage Foundation is pretty dead on with regards to this topic.

  • I think the Adam Smith quote cuts to the heart of the matter. Modern economies have become so efficient that very few of us are employed meeting peoples basic needs, i.e. very few people in the modern economy are in the business of feeding, clothing, or lodging. You can make an argument that health care could be considered a basic necessity, and that is certainly a growing industry, but even with that certainly more than 50% of the economy is based on making and selling stuff we don't need.

    It seems that government is continually focused on increasing commerce in order to increase the efficiency by which the economy runs in order to grow GDP and raise those poor feeders, clothers, and lodgers out of the abject poverty in which they lived in Adam Smith's day and they'll finally be able to feed, clothe, and lodge themselves. The problem is, even though we as a society do still have the rich and the poor, we have the capacity to meet everyone's needs and therefore I think our economy (which in America is our raison d'etre) needs a different focus. I think creating a little art would be a fine focus.

  • papertiger

    i suppose that the unease i have with respect to the government funding the arts is that, since funds are limited, somewhere along the line someone has to make a judgment regarding what art projects should or should not be supported. to me there is a difference between the government hiring artists for government purposes (i.e. to sell war bonds, for monuments, etc.) vs. just supporting the arts generally. the latter makes me uneasy because of the judgments involved.

    rather than the government supporting specific art projects, I think this money could be better spent supporting arts education in school — from basic elementary school music classes to music theory in later years.

  • @papertiger: What you're describing is essentially what the NEA does. Their main focus is now on arts "infrastructure," access, and partnerships with local organizations and agencies that support a variety of other artists.

    I think there really is a lot of misunderstanding of the NEA's role. This is not an agency that goes out as says, wow, we like this composer, let's give him $10,000. It's quite the opposite. It's about helping local organizations with their capacity to support the overall artistic community. If you aren't providing broad benefits, you aren't getting funding. Now, I think there are merits and dangers to that approach, as with any policy approach. But the argument being used against the agency seems to show fundamental ignorance of what it actually does. That's acceptable for you and me, but not so much for the policy makers who control the agency's purse strings. You'd kind of hoped they had done some homework instead of making sweeping statements about whether art itself is useful.

  • papertiger

    @peter: it is a fine line. although I agree 100% with your assessment of Flake's ignorance.

    From the NEA website:

    The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. (http://www.nea.gov/about/index.html)

    See also: http://www.nea.gov/about/Facts/AtAGlance.html

  • One thing I've always wished for is that musical instrument manufacturing returned to the U.S. I was disappointed as a kid when I heard that some of my favorite bass guitars were no longer made by hand in the U.S. Good article.

  • Jake

    From a uk perspective i find this quite bizzare and frankly a little frightening. While people often complain about the music industry and the macinations of the record labels, it is at least recognized that culture contributes to the economy. For the uk, music is the 2nd/3rd biggest import depending on how you measure it and that's before you factor in income generated by visual arts etc. Culture is clearly important to the knowledge economy that the western world has been increasingly moving towards. This economy is a direct result of western companies moving away from a reliance on manufacturing (which frankly we can no longer compete with developing economies). We know make an income from selling services, to try and say that the fruits of artistic labour do not contribute to the economy is in my opinion deeply flawed.

  • eric

    Real conservatives don't want ANY bail out (not even the first) so don't think you're somehow specially singled out because you're an artist!

    Oh, and a point of note: when you use the words conservative and republican interchangeably it makes you sound pretty ignorant, it's kinda like calling Nader a Democrat… I would suggest hitting up Wikipedia and doing at least a little research on your sworn enemy before doling out you're poorly grounded thoughts.

    Have a nice day 🙂

    P.s. I am an artist and I will tell you this: most stuff an artist sells is sold to people who are not artists. In order for an artist to flourish, it is 10x more important that everyone else has jobs first. Otherwise it's the give a fish /teach how to fish scenario.

  • eric:
    I never said "conservatives" were my "enemy." I can't really argue with you on this, though, because I don't think you actually read carefully what I was saying. I think I'm pretty clear above and in comments that having disagreements — even fundamental, philosophical disagreements — is essential.

    And I'm not confusing conservatives and Republicans here. The Republican party leadership uses traditional definitions of conservatism as their watch cry, and they're borrowing talking points from the self-described conservatives at the Heritage Foundation. My whole point is that people who ascribe to conservative philosophy here are doing their own argument a disservice by picking and choosing some convenient punching bags like the arts while ignoring the bigger chunks of money coming out of the whole budget. And none of these people (including the Heritage Foundation) is entirely opposed to government spending, so that sort of pure conservatism isn't even under discussion.

    As I said, I happen to disagree with those points on what constitutes stimulus. But the real issue here is that arts indeed *are* being singled out — check out the talking points from Republican House opposition to the plan, and the think tanks like the Heritage Foundation.

    Here's the bottom line: it isn't going to make a fundamental difference whether or not there's this small amount of federal spending on the arts. It means something to spend that money, and it does mean something to the recipients. But the real issue of significance is the claim that one kind of federal stimulus spending is okay, but another is not, because the assumption is that the arts don't contribute to the economy. That's an absurd claim to make, and people coming from a variety of political backgrounds ought to be able to come together to call them on it.

  • @Peter Kirn, pardon the comment about the post being unbecoming to CDM, its just that I've seen a lot of "non-political" blogs and websites participating in this debate, and nearly all of them seem lead right to the current economic stimulus bill, which I'm just tired of hearing about (and commenting on) Rep. Flake made a stupid comment about arts funding being pork, and it shows his ignorance. He's not wrong about the bill containing pork, he did pick a very poor example.

    More to the point, my comment about redefining profit being juvenile still stands. The definition of profit has always been simply "to gain benefit from", its only when used in different contexts does it take on different meaning in accounting and economics. In the context of my life, I DO gain benefits from participating in and learning from art. I pay for it as such.

    As for Adam Smith's meaning, the most compelling meaning I draw from it comes from the pages of Atlas Shrugged (Part 2 Chapter 2), where the root of money and value is explored (sorry if there is some Objectivism peeking through). Smith is right, but interpreting this as an excuse for welfare (for anyone, no matter which category they belong in) of any kind is wrong. Laborers (and everyone for that matter) don't require their necessities be provided for them, they require their services to be paid for and respected in order that they might pay others for their services and goods.

    The struggle is in message. Art is a service. Art is a good. Helping people to understand that that is the case is tough. Making them understand (and pay for it) is impossible. This might offend, but consider it tantamount to religion: you can't make me believe in hell, and you can't make me believe that if I pay you money you'll ensure my salvation. Making me pay via taxation would be wrong. This is example is a stretch, I know, but you can't make me pay for art that I see no value in. Find someone who does see value in it to pay for it.

    This argument could go on and on, and philosophical differences will prevent us from coming to anything but a compromise. I am saying that I find a lot of value in art, but as an individual, and respecting all individual rights, I cannot tell someone else what to feel. By proxy I cannot in my right mind support pulling money away from every person (taxation) to support enterprises which they do not ALL find value in. This just means that we as artists have more work to do to further our message.

    Lots of respect for your comments Peter, you're moderating the comments very well, looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

  • andi

    for those of you that feel that writing to your policy makers does any good, there is this:


  • eric


    I'm going to set aside the issue about the package in total being completely wrong for the country for a moment.

    The lack of inclusion of the arts in the stimulus package is not saying that on a cultural level the arts are poor for the country and aught not be funded, it is about the fact that in their minds this money should go to issues which will spur growth at the beginning rather than flourishes at the end. Like it or not, in this economic situation inclusion is not what they're trying to achieve. They are trying to re-start the economy to the previous pitch (which will not work with a stimulus plan), so this money should go to places which will create a positive economic waterfall effect. We are at the end of the waterfall and our products and services are not items which fall under 'needs'. they are disposable, that is why these are the first items that people cut back on. I ask you what good are CDs of music if 14% of people out of work?

    It is truly selfish, and ego-driven for the artist community to demand at this juncture in economic failure.

    Now, my opinion, as a conservative, is that the entire endeavor is a horrible idea and will lead to this childish pork-barreling from both sides and nothing will be achieved except for a massive debt that we as citizens will have to pay, whether or not we feel included.

  • Well, for starters, we need to successfully address the right problem. The US doesn't have anywhere near a 14% unemployment rate (in fact, I don't think we've gotten that high since the Great Depression, and it should be preventable now).

    No one's demanding anything. Arts advocacy groups are in the business of advocating for the arts – that's their mission in life, so I'm not going to criticize them for this. But the point is that a limited group of policymakers went through this whole bill and came up with the arts as one of their specific cases of what was bad about the bill, despite the fact that the *amount* is wildly disproportionate to the rest of the bill. And I'm not surprised – this was the same argument used in the 90s.

    Anyway, I do believe the arts can have waterfall effect – I'd argue anything rich in teaching people to actually make stuff of their own initiative is exactly what's needed. The WPA was the ultimate in liberalism as far as that goes, and I don't think we want that now; it was a different time. But let's forget federal funding for a second: I think investing time and energy in the arts, investing our own resources (not the government's, necessarily) is exactly what's needed, certainly for those of us who specialize in this area.

    And I'd group the people making art with the people making all kinds of other things.

    I would be entirely unapologetic about that, because I think fundamentally it's a good thing. That's not driven by me ego, but by my own area of specialization. And I don't know that it's selfish, but it's driven – as economies are – by healthy self-interest.

    We already have a massive debt. The question now is whether we can get out of the debt, which will require increasing revenue and economic growth and not just reducing spending. Whether this omnibus spending bill is correct or not is a valid point for debate, but you've got about 99.99% of it (literally) that has nothing to do with the arts.

  • yapruder

    Pitiful. The NEA was barely funded and has been whittled away at since its inception. The old joke back in the day was that the budget for military marching bands was bigger than the entire NEA budget.

    The USA has become over-militarized, short-sighted and small-minded; the result of ideological pressures that have slashed arts education for the last 25 years. Real funding for the arts should be at the billion dollar level.

    Take one billion dollar bomber, just one death machine off the table, and put that money in the service of arts education and non-profit regional arts centers.
    The problem is that explaining the value and importance of art does not lend itself to sound bites and slogans – it does not even really coincide with conventional linear sequential thinking.

    Art is not really about product, entertainment and profits for vendors. Art is about the evolution of the human mind.
    And we have to have vital, robust interdisciplinary imagination to envision the future we ought to be working towards.
    If you care about the future of the species, support the arts big time.

  • Pingback: Artists’ Jobs Aren’t Jobs? Will the Real Conservatives Please Stand Up? « SJSU’s Art Forum Blog()

  • jake, you say, "Culture is clearly important to the knowledge economy that the western world has been increasingly moving towards."

    Yes. I totally agree with this. In fact, with so many manufacturing and manual labor jobs going over seas- culture is one of the last monopolies that the US (and you guys across the pond) have left. Sure, there is culture everywhere in the world. But everywhere you go american movies and music will dominate in the mainstream aspect (for better/worse). This has put us in a position where the world looks at us for new things. Would hip-hop have gone global if the world didn't already pay attention to our rock&roll and rhythm&blues? I believe this phenomenon will repeat itself for generations.

    How this extrapolates for the US in specific, is that individuals can make money off being artists. Your milage may vary, of course- but there is a market for art. Why? Because it's fun. It's FUN. It's fun to go to museums and look at cool things. It's fun to go to clubs and jump around to dance music. It's fun to meet up and socialize with people who share your tastes. And all of this turns into money and jobs for the economy when there are buildings, venues, and clubs brought to a city. Then with those come the restaurants, bars, stores, etc.

    When people do fun shit, other people want to join them. Because it's fun. Extrapolate this phenomenon and you get New York City, a place where there's always going to be something to do or somewhere to go. It's a nice place to be when you're a "New York". Of course every city, town, and hamlet has it's own charm. Still, being the "New York" of the world brings very solid and quantifiable benefits.

    So, Grant. When you say, "…but you can’t make me pay for art that I see no value in. Find someone who does see value in it to pay for it." What I would wager is that some politicians see what I just described. Investing in american art, and the american art culture, in the broad view of a nation is just plainly a good investment. This is even more so when you take into account the loss of manual labor jobs I described above. Our art culture will continue to see returns on investment long after our strategic oil reserves are depleted.

    plurgid, you mentioned “reigniting culture wars”. This is true. Even in what should be a political culture vaccum, CDM has now somehow touched a nerve.

    eric says, "Oh, and a point of note: when you use the words conservative and republican interchangeably it makes you sound pretty ignorant…" Not when the people who are saying these things call themselves conservatives. The american republican party uses this word to describe themselves. Don't be mad at democrats for using it, be mad a repbulicans for stealing it.

    Now to bring my longwindedness to a close. This is exactly what Peter is talking about. See, republicans use the battle flag of conservativism selectively. I'm sure there's a bunch of other shit in this bill that they like. Even if there isn't, the larger point stands that republicans use your precious tax dollars to fund their programs all the time. How about some faith based initiatives?

    As many of you 'classical conservatives', libertarians, and objectivists like to point out- republicans aren't concervatives. And that speaks directly to Peter's and plurgid's point that this smacks more of culture war flame-baiting than anything even close to fiscal conservativism. There isn't anything else on this bill that uses more money that we might not need? REALLY?

    Also, at risk of destroying my iniative to have a well thought out and somewhat neutral and respectful post… I would just like to say that Atlas Shrugged is the worst and longest pamphlet I ever had to stop reading on page 750. (I guess I have to add my flamebait to keep this convo going… ;p )

  • Pingback: Wow Cool » Must Read Commentary “Artists’ Jobs Aren’t Jobs?” on Create Digital Music()

  • Damon

    It would seem a comment that might only come from an (CAUGH!) artist, but is not art more about health and well-being than entertainment. We love art cause it is healing – healing to create and healing to enjoy. Will art funding help so in so gain the necessary skills to obtain and hold a job specific to the arts. Maybe… Will funding for the arts inspire attitudes that can only result in better-equipped and more employable persons? Surely!

    So I think the key here is to understand how funding for the arts has a much greater breadth of influence than jobs only specific to art, and should be promoted as such. Moreover, by promoting art programs as intrinsic to health, well-being, and productivity, cost cutters should be less inclined to regard them as mere luxuries.


    A grammar and spellchecker has effectively homogenized this comment for your disinterest. The commenter was formally an experimental electronic music artist, but has since become an engineer.

  • Hoon

    This debate extends to any endeavor in this country not directly related to producing goods and services with definable financial reward. It's a cultural bias we have as a strongly capitalist country and thus, it's hard to change. For some, it's even a moral question of priority.

    The fact that we define groups as "non-profits" at all is an indication of our bias. Why define an organization by what they DON'T produce?

    The arts are not a service, nor a good. They can produce or lead to these things, but they are fundamentally ends onto themselves. They are part of our human nature and they should be respected and prioritized as such. The fact that they don't always lead to predictable financial gain should be irrelevant. They should be judged by different criteria. I feel that the arts are the best way to exercise human creativity and certainly creativity itself is fundamental to any kind of progress. Like literacy, creativity's effects and value are tangible but sometimes hard to quantify as they impact multiple levels of personal and societal improvement.

    As for not funding these things with government money – government is the first place some of this stuff should be funded. Government should see it as their place to demonstrate that these things are priorities for their people, that their role in society is to represent, promote and foster the culture of a people as well.

    And just as we wouldn't throw human or civil rights out the window when times are dark, we shouldn't de-prioritize the things that help define and evolve our humanity, including the arts.

  • gwenhwyfaer

    a123: Actually, we could do with real PEOPLE standing up, however they self-identify. Unfortunately, instead of which, we end up with tribalist sheep who can't see past the either/or divide of "our people" vs "their people", and will defend "our people" even as their principles are sold out from beneath them.

    Bottom line. If you start talking about "your party" or "your sworn enemy", you're part of the problem. Whichever side you're on. Blind party loyalty – or worse, the projection of it onto everyone who disagrees with you, ever – is something best left in dictatorships. If labels or tribes are more important than even principles to you, let alone real people or solutions to real problems – then forgive my bluntness, but you're too damned stupid to be in the conversation.

    (Sorry. That rant's been brewing for a while.)

  • To expand on my previous point a little bit, I just found out that there is 75 million dedicated to anti-smoking initiatives in this economic stimulus plan.

    Apparently most of the money is going to increase existing ad campaigns and then to the CDC for equipment to test cigarettes for different chemicals. While anti-smoking initiatives could have an economic benefit (reduced health care costs), these two focuses seem to be a little redundant.

    Why didn't the republicans jump all over this?

  • Swami Digital

    This discussion is silly. The reason we need stimulus is to pump up the cash supply in the economy, to stimulate flow and spending. It's not about promoting this industry or that, it's about getting money into the economy. Keynes I think even argued that it doesn't matter what you spend it on, just that you spend enough in ways that it gets re-spent (ie. not just saved up).

    With that in mind, it's ridiculous to nitpick money spent on the arts.

  • Ok Guys (and gals)

    The links above list the office numbers for every Senator and Representative in Washington. Tell them what you've told each other.
    The comments we make amongst ourselves, should be heard directly by the misinformed legislators who make such uncommonly stupid comments. I heard those comments about the NEA's $50 million from Rep. Cooper (D-TN) and I immediately called his office and told his (surprised) staffers that he was full of ….(nicely of course) and he should be ashamed to be from Nashville with such an anti-culture bias. Just think, if even one of us calls every day, he'll hear something every day of the year about the Arts and how vitally important it is for our nation, schools, communities and yes…DP users like me. =-)

  • denim

    If the arts are "fun" and "necessary" then why can't they be funded privately?

    I am a foster mother who read these comments carefully to see if I was missing out on something important I should introduce my foster children to. Didn't happen here.

    While the "profit" comment and many others were profound, it still leaves the reasoning that if these jobs are so beneficial, some RICH person would've marketed them.

    Currently, it is only the RICH that provide a heavy portion of the funding for such jobs and you should kiss their behinds for doing it and stop trying to steal my hard-earned dollars for it.

    Calling the US over-militarized and bombers "death machines" shows what happens when one engrosses themselves in liberal arts. They lose brain matter. It is those bombers that keep us free to pursue these fine arts and I'd like to see where your jobs would be if we hadn't used them to defend ourselves from mideastern radical nuts who would like nothing better than to flush liberal arts jobs down the toilet. When you see a military person, you'd better shake their hand & thank them for what they're doing for YOU.

  • yapruder

    Truly sad.
    The request was for the budget for one single bomber to be reassigned to the arts. You will not give up one single war implement to feed your children's minds?
    How many death machines do you need to feel safe?

    The arts are about creativity and imagination. Everything from the toys your children play with to the design of houses, cars, appliances and even communities relies on ingenuity and innovation that is informed by the artistic process.

    Art is not about making pretty or frivolous things for rich people.
    The arts are about research, experimentation and exploration that develops new ways to solve problems, new perspectives that lead to fresh solutions for situations and conditions, as well as deeper understanding.
    The arts touch all fields of human endeavor and can inspire approaches and techniques that can open doors to new possibilities and uncover hidden potentials.
    From this standpoint, the military is also the beneficiary of the enhancement to the imagination provided by engagement with the arts.

    Artists consult and employ architects, structural engineers. mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, computer engineers, materials scientists, fabricators, even insurance agents, and all these are also informed by being part of the process. Art is a cross-pollination of all disciplines by an attitude of creative intelligence.

    The reason the government should be involved in supporting the arts is the same reason it should be involved in education: because it benefits the nation and the world. The government is us, "we the people", and culture needs to be cultivated — cultivated across a broad spectrum, not merely the limited special interests of rich people or of commerce. There is pure research that needs to be funded and encouraged, things that seem useless and won't make anyone any money now, but contribute to the development of an intelligent future.

  • denim

    Once again I see the liberal belief that government is necessary to promote the things listed by yapruder. All of these things are sponsored by private industry and those things that are worthy proliferate while those things that are not backed by the majority of users fall by the wayside.

    The fact that you think government should be involved in education shows your ignorance. It is BECAUSE government is involved in education that our children do so poorly. Make education a competitive market and our kids will, once again, becomes beacons in the global market of ideas.

    Education & art should both become competitive in the market place and, only then, will the best ideas come to the fore instead of our current system that rewards mediocrity and keeps our kids mired in the mundane.

  • denim, you say, "If the arts are “fun” and “necessary” then why can’t they be funded privately?"

    Because there is a recession (depression?) right now. Does no one want to live in houses just because the housing bubble burst?

    I'd like to pull up on the yoke of this discussion a bit. I think what Peter was originally trying to say wasn't just that "the arts aren't going to get funding!! omg!", but the fact that "the arts" seem to be some kind of punching bag for "conservatives" (even if they aren't 'real' conservatives) and Republicans.

    As I pointed out above, there is 75 Million in this bill for anti-smoking initiatives that I feel are redundant. Why was this not lambasted? This is the point. We're not trying to force you to pay for our shitty renditions of shakespeare at our local theater. We're wondering why it's so easy to go on TV and basically call 'the arts' worthless. Why is "arts" a four letter word (a stretch of prose, I know).

    The sad fact for most real conservatives is that this bill is going through wether you like it or not. I know why you are anti-big government and anti-big spending. I understand your philosophies and arguments, even if not entirely agree with them. But I'm not talking about big government vs. small government (and I believe that Peter isn't either). The point is, if the bill is going to happen no matter what- why do our country's 'conservatives' feel like they can take a shit on the NEA? Out of all the things in this bill, why was this pointed out at the worst and most aggregious entry?

    If you object to this bill on a fiscally conservative or libertarian basis, there ARE other things in this bill that are more aggregious than this. And they aren't just fighter planes. So then why was this singled out? Because it's easier for Republicans to use "culture war" ammunition in their arguments.

    We feel that this phenomenon is unfair and dumb. Futhermore:

    denim, "Calling the US over-militarized and bombers “death machines” shows what happens when one engrosses themselves in liberal arts. They lose brain matter."

    Do you know what liberal arts means? I feel that you're being a little reactionary here in defense of free market capitalism. As a result, you've said something, well… funny. There's always going to be people talking about "death machines" and the "fats cats on capital hill" in conversations like these. Just like there will always be people saying "get your hand out of my pocket" and "if it wasn't for… then you'd be living in a middle east dictatorship!".

    If anything, I'd let your children look at this if only to understand how people discuss serious things on the internet. It's never pretty, and rarely stays on topic. Thanks internet!

  • yapruder

    Newmiracle says:

    >>As I pointed out above, there is 75 Million in this bill for anti-smoking initiatives that I feel are redundant. Why was this not lambasted?<>This is the point. We’re not trying to force you to pay for our shitty renditions of shakespeare at our local theater. We’re wondering why it’s so easy to go on TV and basically call ‘the arts’ worthless. Why is “arts” a four letter word (a stretch of prose, I know).<<

    I would assume this to be a rhetorical question but what the heck. (Note that your use of "shitty renditions" signals a vague inherence to the worthlessness of arts.)

    From the standpoint of authoritarian ideological groups, the arts have historically and traditionally been viewed as at best decadent, frivolous, wasteful, and at worst as promoting anarchy and relativism thus a threat to decency and social order.

    Since in-group cohesion is established and maintained via reference to an "other", an externality viewed as the enemy, group leaders such as politicians rely on demonization to engender defensive fear reactions that can be manipulated for political purposes.

    For certain groups the word Art does not signify beauty, creativity and intelligence, instead it signifies: blasphemy, queers, commies, leftists, perversion, debauchery and basic Un-Americanism. It is the same as the demonization around the words liberal and elite.

    The truth of assertions and utterances does not matter, what matters is that the correct code words are spoken.

    In the USA, deeply ingrained threads of puritanism, authoritarianism, anti-intellectualism, and distorted reactionary models of masculinity are marshaled to inhibit humanism and science, as well as hinder progress for social justice.

    The cuts to arts education funding over the last 30 years amounts to a suppression of the arts. This devaluing becomes pervasive, especially in the sense that – how can our policy makers and social leaders have an informed opinion about something in which they were never allowed to build an extensive background of experience?

    One of the great things about art is that it does not supply meaning to you on a platter — art examines meaning, investigates meaning and explores the meaning of "meaning."

    Which is of course why some view it as dangerous.

  • denim

    "Me thinks you [both] protest too much." Only in your limited world are the "arts" the only thing lambasted in this bill.

    I sent out emails telling my friends why I oppose this bill and NEVER EVEN KNEW ABOUT THE $50 MILLION TO NEA. That's how I ended up at this site, AFTER the House had already voted to pass it.

    So, get over yourselves and stop making sweeping generalizations about those who oppose money to an industry that can't hold its own in the free market. In other words, it is not supported by the majority.

    Your comment about "art is not about making frivolous pretty things for the rich" again shows that you don't get it, Y. It is not that the rich buy your products (arts). It's that the rich subsidize it. They DONATE boucou bucks to it and w/o them, it would truly die. I was just asking you to appeciate your supporters.

    "By the year 2012, projected outlays for entitlements and interest on the national debt will consume all tax revenues collected by the federal government … There will not be one cent left over for education, children's programs, highways, national defense, or any other discretionary program." – Bipartisan U.S. Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform That was quoted BEFORE this crises. Still think $50 million is no big deal?

  • Denim says, "Only in your limited world are the “arts” the only thing lambasted in this bill."

    Again, I don't think you're listening.

    I am not talking about the general economics behind the stimulus bill. Neither are most of the people here.

    The point is this,
    Using 875 (b)billion as the base figure. With the figure of 50 (m)million going to the NEA:

    .000571429% of this bailout bill consists of funds for the NEA. That's one 1,000th of half of one percent. So no, in the scope of this bill I do not think it is "a big deal".

    20 (b)billion of this stimulus plan, "includes $20 billion for a temporary increase in food stamps" says the NYT article here:

    Now, that represents .229% of the money. This number is 400 times larger than the amount given to the NEA. Now why talk about the NEA instead of this? I can't imagine anything more anti-conservative than food stamps. Yet, he chose not to address this. What we are examining, here at this site, is the phenomenon of choosing to reference "the arts" as a blanket negative.

    Now the reason that we here are looking upon this phenomenon as negative is because most of us here on this site are artists. Many musicians come to this site. I thought you might be too, until I read what you wrote here:

    "I sent out emails telling my friends why I oppose this bill and NEVER EVEN KNEW ABOUT THE $50 MILLION TO NEA. That’s how I ended up at this site, AFTER the House had already voted to pass it."

    How exactly, did you get to this site? Do you know what this site is about? Do you understand why we don't like what Jeff Flake has said? He has taken a cheap shot at art itself, when there was no logical reason to. I really don't think you are paying attention to what we are talking about.

    This reminds me of one of my favorite movies.

    Walter: Were you listening to The Dude's story, Donny?
    The Dude: Walter…
    Donny: What?
    Walter: Were you listening to The Dude's story?
    Donny: I was bowling.
    Walter: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know…
    The Dude: (interrupting) Walter, Walter, what's the point, man?
    Walter: There's no reason – here's my point, dude, there's no fucking reason why these two…
    Donny: Yeah, Walter, what's your point?

  • denim

    OK, here's my point. I don't want one cent of my tax dollars to go to an industry that does not have the support of enough US citizens to pay its own way. If these jobs are worthy, market them. If not, don't steal my money to support them.

    I teach dance. I would NEVER ask anyone to subsidize it and I don't want to subsidize these jobs, either.

    Just because this bill is full of crap, does mean it's OK to steal money from your neighbors to support something you endorse. Throw the whole bill with all of its crap in the toilet where it belongs.

  • yapruder

    denim writes
    >>OK, here’s my point. I don’t want one cent of my tax dollars to go to an industry that does not have the support of enough US citizens to pay its own way.<<

    Really. Not one penny!

    Not one penny for something that is for the public/common good, not just in terms of job creation and production, but also in encouraging a healthy cultural environment for progress and innovation.

    That is powerful stingy.

    Well, you are in luck. The amount in your personal tax burden that currently goes to the arts is somewhere between 1/7th of a penny and 1/12th of a penny.

    Of course it is not just about industry, it is about access and opportunity.

    That is one of the problems with free market thinking: there is no free market. It is a myth like the Easter Bunny except that the Easter Bunny never hurts anyone with its recalcitrant absurdity. Access and opportunity are not evenly distributed and large concentrations of money tilt the playing field in favor of things that have nothing to do with quality.

    The Bush Administration lost nearly $10 billion in Iraq that was slated for reconstruction. Is this completely forgotten and water under the bridge? Pallets loaded with blocks of $100 bills, gone, just disappeared down the rabbit hole most likely right wing cronies, think tank hacks and incompetent party stooges and corporate shills for ghost corporatiuons. The Republicans refused to do oversight and the Dems wimped out holding anyone accountable.

    Why not email your friends and call your representatives about that?

  • denim

    Stingy? You're the stingy ones. Stealing from your neighbors because YOU think something is good.

    Dance has proven to be good exercise and it has even been praised as a suicide preventative. Yet, it does not deserve stealing from my neighbors to support it. If my neighbors want to support dance, they can do so via numerous venues.

    I had a ballroom for 6 years with about 200 customers a week. We didn't make it. Tough. That does not qualify me to steal my neighbor's hard-earned money to keep my ballroom in business, no matter how much my customers loved it.

    You compare $10 billion to restructure an entire society with $50 million for your precious arts? Newmiracle compares money for food for the poor with money to NEA. You both need to check your priorities, 'cuz I think they stink.

    You call bombers death machines. They are no more "death machines" than the guns in the holsters of your local police as they attempt to enforce laws. You bore me and I will not be back here to listen to your dribble.

  • yapruder

    denim writes:
    >>You compare $10 billion to restructure an entire society<<

    That was $10 billion dollars that was stolen.
    Stolen, it never got used.
    Sure, a measly $10 billion known to be lost to incompetence greed out of over $200 billion budgeted, so who cares?

    If you feel that your 1/7th of a penny has been stolen by the arts, then email me your address and I will mail you a whole penny!

  • Denim,"Newmiracle compares money for food for the poor with money to NEA."

    Fine. Then look at any other example in the bill. How about PELL Grants? You never did address my point about anti-smoking initiatives. You're just waffling to buy yourself more time or think that I'm going to drop this. You know you can look in that bill and see that there is something that uses more money and would be considered just as useful as NEA grants. But you're dodging this point because you know I'm right. Thanks for playing, though.

    And again, you haven't addressed what I'm talking about.

    I know what you think of government spending. You are a fiscal conservative, and have demonstrated as much. Now, Jeff Flake singled out the NEA as the worst offender in this bill. "If that's not pork, I don't know what is," he says.

    Now, if you are LISTENING to what I am saying, and wish to respond to the topic I am discussing, I would be interested in you justification for this cheap shot at the arts themselves. If the problem is this spending 875 Billion in tax money, why didn't Jeff Flake pick some other part of this bill that cost more? Why is the 'porkiest of the pork' in this bill 1,000th of half of one percent?

    I can see why you don't like government spending but why, of all things, this pointed out at the WORST offender in a spending bill of 875 Billion? And it was pointed out, in a quote, by a Republican

    That is the topic of conversation. Also, I'd be interested to see how you "got here" to CDM. Personally, I think you just realized you didn't know what you were talking about and that you were, well… out of your element.

  • Sorry, I accidentally cut some of my text out. That second paragraph should end:

    by a Republican senator when asked what was wrong with this bill. Even when 200 million (four times the NEA amount) is going to reseed the national mall! How is that less 'porky' than the NEA?

  • gah, I meant "second to last paragraph". All thumbs today.

  • As a performing musician, I am very amused by the government's concept of "minimum wage". Last month I played a two hour show and was handed a whopping total of $ 8.00. Should I have factored in two beers provided by the venue as part of my compensation package?
    Contemporary American society does not value the contributions of its artists and performers. Outside of the tiny fraction of superstars "validated" by radio, MTV, and a sycophantic press, it is increasingly difficult for artists to earn any kind of decent wages at all.
    Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Very few local artists view themselves as a "product" or operate in any sort of business like fashion at all.
    As far as the governement is concerned, I am very conflicted. On the one hand, I don't want to see tax $$$ wasted on nonsense. On the other hand, I want to be able to see a live smphony performance or an avante garde jazz composer's latest work.
    Artists have to value their own work and find new ways to market themselves. We also need to start a cultural revolution which shows the value in works that exist outside of the "top 40" mindset fostered by the industrial-media complex.

  • Pingback: Must Read Commentary “Artists’ Jobs Aren’t Jobs?” on Create Digital Music | Game Blog()