Tuesday, January 09, 2007

In The Crosshairs

Well, the Herald greets us with a fantastic headline this morning. Their target is the Mass Cultural Council which has been starved to death over the last decade or so and is just now starting to get back some of its dough.

Yesterday the MCC released news that Governor Patrick has restored $700,000 in funding.

Not if the Herald and reporter David Wedge can do anything about it.

The cultural council, which received $13.4 million in taxpayer dollars this year in addition to a small amount from national endowments, had its budget cut by 65 percent in 2002 but arts funding has been on the rise in recent years. Romney tried to slash some arts spending as part of a $400 million budget cut package but most of those cuts have been reinstated by Patrick.

These conflicts are maddening. Some people see the value of the arts and civic engagement, (like the Education Commissioner of Rhode Island who is mandating arts education in the schools.) Some people don't. Then again, to be fair, some people do see the value, but aren't all that hot on some of their paycheck going to support it.

I have always looked at it this way: Believe me, if we don't decide to spend money to expose our children to traditional dance music and theatre, then there are plenty of people out there who will spend infinitely more to expose them their commercial entertainments which masquerade as art.

Sony, Hollywood, MTV, etc. They have no problem sinking billions into every medium possible so that they can shape cultural opinion and tastes.

Don Hall, the Angry Guy in Chicago talked about things the arts community needs to enact to at least put up some sort of struggle against the coming asphyxiation. Part of his solution has to do with education:

This is up to us, boys and girls. If we're cutting property taxes to help us with venues, we'll be cutting funding for education, so we need to fill the gap. Each artist, whether or not they receive benefit from the G, should create smart, creative programming and perform it at schools for free - these schools have little enough dough as it is and most kids haven't a clue about living art. If we throw up our hands and cry "It' not my problem!" then we're fucked and we deserve to be.

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