At Culture Monster, Christopher Knight notes that the Senate passed, with bipartisan support, an amendment submitted by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma "to ensure that taxpayer money is not lost on wasteful and non-stimulative projects." That means excluding "any ... museum, theater [or] art center" from getting aid.
In response, Knight offers "Five Reasons Congress Hates the Arts."
- The culture industry is cosmopolitan, so flag-waving options are few.
- The culture industry is pluralistic, but Congress is only marginally so.
- As corporations, arts institutions are nonprofit, so there's no money to be made via lobbyists.
- Culture is girlie, not manly.
- The arts often look at sexual experience -- eek!
"Economic stimulus is dependent on the human spirit. The arts create confidence and self-worth, and those qualities in turn foster fiscal activity. The arts build neighborhoods and can help stem the decline in property values. The current recession is most devastating in inner cities, precisely where the arts are at their best."
The idea that the arts don't create jobs is absurd, Jones argues: "they just fuel different kinds of struggling workers, workers unaccustomed to bonuses. Their role in generating billions of dollars in ancillary economic activity for stores, restaurants and the travel business has been proven in bucketloads of surveys and analyses."
As someone who spent a week in New York City last fall, I can personally attest to all of the economic activity I stimulated:
- Amtrak, which got me there and back
- the hotel where I stayed
- all of the restaurants where I ate
- all of the stores where I shopped
- taxi rides and bus and subway fares
- museum admissions
- the $5 I paid to a sidewalk vendor for an umbrella