National Endowment for Arts. Every so often comes a plea for people to write their congressman asking them not to cut funding for the NEA. Up popped two petitions the other day on Facebook asking for signatures to let congress know we the people want the NEA funded. I read some of the comments attached to these pleas and was surprised to find not every artist is behind this organization. Several comments were from artists who had never benefitted from the NEA. They felt the NEA only funded weird art and so they saw no benefit in keeping them around.
I remember the big flap over the Mapplethorpe Exhibition in Cincinnati. Congress, led by congressman Jesse Helms, was in a todo over funding of the NEA because of 7 controversial photos in the exhibition. I could be wrong, but the crowds for that show were huge and art museums across the country reported increases in attendants during that controversy. I noticed an increase in sales with my own work and my subjects were far from Mapplethorpe's .
The NEA funds all the arts from ballets to rock concerts, from movies to small theater groups. If you watch public television you probably have seen programs funded by the NEA. They're not going to be able to fund every struggling artist but in some way every struggling artist benefits from the NEA. Art, in all its forms, enlightens everyone's life. A statue of Robert E. Lee in the town square put pride in a man's chest and a spring to his step. It was an artist who created that statue. The logo on the Falcon's helmet was created by an artist. How many people visit Mount Rushmore? Again the creation of an artist. Art can enlighten or offend, it reminds us we are human.
When Churchill was asked should the government shut down the arts during WWII his reply was. "Then what are we fighting for?"