Friday, December 3, 2004
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Clayton News Daily
I've heard the argument lately from liberals that the Bush administration is the beginning of the end for the Cultural Arts. The claim is that the Bush constituency is a group of people devoid of cultural which I've stated before is impossible, and artistic sensibility which is largely an elitist construction to deny individuals' participation in the artistic process.
Part of the liberal philosophy is that you can't do anything without the help of others. This idea extends to the arts, which often is a closed-circuit, insider affair which confounds and perplexes individuals who have limited access to it. I am not denying the importance of art history, as it coincides with our standard history lessons and is equally important. To the contrary, I think the humanities should be a regular part of the curriculum in high school as opposed to an elective, as it was for me.
On the Web site for the National Endowment for the Arts a press release states that the budget for Fiscal Year 2005 is $121 million. The federal agency will also award more than $21 million between 839 grants next year. I think the arts are being funded sufficiently enough, don't you? The press release goes on to state that $19.9 million will go to all sorts of different things like exhibitions, festivals, and other "projects." I'm on the fence about this, I like what they accomplish (which has been a great deal), but I wonder how much actually goes to the public schools, if any. Instead the majority of funds may be going to a select few when compared to all the kids out there who could be learning to express themselves. I could not find direct mention of involvement with public schools for art education on the Web Site, just info about funding given in the form of grants and fellowships to individuals and non-profit groups. Dare I suggest that we use a little more of it to assure that the average child learns to draw or that the average teenager has a working knowledge of art history and why it should be valued?
Besides the fact that the NEA has a healthy budget to work with, the arts can't be quashed because it is an individual concept, not an entity. The artistic cultural elite is such and it can be dismantled, but not art itself. It is a state of mind that one imposes on an object or an idea. Art really can't be confirmed or denied. We need to move away from propping up a few artists whose politics you may not agree with to providing more projects for school kids to better understand themselves and be well adjusted adults when they grow up.
Zach Porter is a photographer for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 or firstname.lastname@example.org