Should government dollars fund the arts? | The Tylt
Donald Trump plans to slash funding for the arts. The Hill reported that "the administration will shutter the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities." The NEA has been a lightning rod for controversy since the 1980s, and many say we too many pressing issues to confront before we can give taxpayer money to the arts. Others note federal arts funding is already infinitesimal, and that culture matters as much as infrastructure. What do you think? 🎭 🎨 📖
Should government dollars fund the arts?
The U.S. spends far, far less on arts funding than our European counterparts do. Per capita, our National Endowment for the Arts spends 1/40th of what Germany spends on the arts. And many argue the arts are not a nice extra; the arts are central to what makes us human.
Trump plans to stop funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA budget is $148 million. Trump's inauguration cost $200 million.— Jamie Ford (@JamieFord) January 20, 2017
The Heritage Foundation has argued for decades that the NEA is unnecessary and an inefficient use of money.
With crumbling infrastructure, struggling public schools, hungry and homeless citizens, can we really justify spending money on art? Do we need to address the real life-and-death issues that confront our nation before we talk about culture? No one is saying artists can't make art—they just may need to do it without federal assistance, as so many already do.
The NEA got $148 million in funding in 2016, a year when the federal government spent about $3.9 trillion. What the government gives to the arts is astonishingly small. At the Washington Post, Philip Bump points out that arts spending makes up less than 0.02 percent of federal spending:
Put another way, if you make $50,000 a year, spending the equivalent of what the government spends on these three programs would be like spending less than $10.
There is a solid, evidence-based argument that every dollar invested in the arts is an investment in jobs, healthy communities, tourism, and economic growth.
For many, the arts are just a luxury—one that a nation in debt simply cannot afford. Let's feed our people and take care of our infrastructure first, go to the opera later.