The Economy and The Arts

I’ve seen several articles, blog posts, and web pages recently that talk about the government support of the arts during these lean economic times. Just this week, there was a controversial vote in downtown Milwaukee on whether or not to proceed with a public art project that had been previously approved and funded. Luckily, the public support was overwhelming and the Janet Zweig project was approved by Public Works Committee of the Milwaukee Common Council by a vote of 12 to 2. While reading about that debate and others, I’ve seen many comments from people indicating that the government should worry about ensuring that people have jobs and not put any money toward the arts. I have also heard about school boards around the country discontinuing their music and drama programs because of budgetary issues as well.

I believe it would be a fantastic world if all artistic endeavors could sustain themselves without generous donors and government assistance but I know it would be simply tragic if they didn’t exist at all. Yes, I agree that times are tough. But now, more than ever, is the time that we need to have access to those things that help us to escape the pressures of everyday life. The arts are an important part of our culture. Our kids need to have the opportunities to learn about artistic skills as well as math, science, and reading. Too many galleries have closed and too many theatre groups have gone under recently. I don’t the have answers as to what we need to do to solve this issue. I just know that awareness is the first step.

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