Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is Funding the Arts A Frivolity?

The arts in the United States produces some 3 million full time jobs, from lighting technicians and rehearsal accompanists to opera singers, accountants and carpenters. This number grows exponentially many times over when you add the millions of service industry employees such as
bartenders, waitresses, cooks, dishwashers, cabbies and hotel workers - many of whose income is directly affected by whether or not a symphony, theatre company or opera house goes dark . . . or worse, under.

But we should expect NO argument ever to be won in the United States of the present on this particular front because, quite simply, as a nation we still tend see the arts as rated XXX: "X-tra" - "X-travagant" and "X-pendable."

While we will figure out how to split billions of dollars in bailing out a miniscule percentage of millionaires who irresponsibly and with contempt for "the little man" - men who basically raped and pillaged the working class, we will barely bat an eye while taking the money and food out of the mouths of the millions of Americans who, on a daily basis, help keep soldiers from blowing their brains out, or those who make the lives of countless low wage earners and other tax paying "second class citizens" bearable. Yes, let's take away the money for those who buoy the spirits
of tax paying potato pickers, fisherman and factory and office workers just Barely scraping by - they won't miss music or other arts, which our leaders seem to deem, essentially a frivolous waste.

The bigger question remains, however: Would we rather leave out a relatively small, but probably inestimably useful stimulus package for the arts now, or worry further down the pike about how we're going to employ, feed and house the millions whose lives are dependent upon the arts for more than just "entertainment" purposes?

Think about it.

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