Thursday, February 5, 2009

NEA's impact is more than decoration

'6 more weeks of winter'
I was struck the other day by the dollar figure of 50 Million.

I had been seeing it bounce around ;- first for the purchase of Citi Banks’ Corporate Jet, part of the first Congressional bailout package and then just the other day on CNN as a figure associated with the NEA, National Endowments for the Arts, as part of the new recovery bill.

Both dollar amounts are identical and both are being scrutinized for there validity.

Many people are aware of how dramatically the Arts have been cut in Public Schools, State and Federal Funding, and Corporate sponsorship. This has impart taken place quite amazingly enough during our recent boom albeit a financial success driven by smoke and mirrors.

Ah look at the King stride down the street in his long underwear the
proletariat are unaware his garments are so fine they can’t be seen.

It is difficult to comprehend that during times of prosperity that the Arts were being so severely cut. One would wonder doesn't Art go hand and glove with a great civilization. After all, really all, we have to show of the great civilizations of the past is Art, Architecture and their Writings;- you might describe this as the soul of a civilization. Every civilization needs a soul as do we as individuals.

The NEA was begun during the hopeful years of the Kennedy Administration and it flourished for a period of time and was reminiscent of the WPA program of the Depression era. Why Art isn’t driven by a free market is because it simply isn’t a utilitarian commodity, it can be ephemeral and conceptual. In many ways each Artwork is its own journey into an unsolved problem. Art seeks creative solutions for intrinsic ideas.

Teaching then and the education of Art is an important tool for creative thinking and the hands on technical skills one needs to create them.

You can almost see how culture devoid of Art and Art Education would foster all the greed and excess of the last decade. How can a CEO the head of a company accept millions of dollars of bonuses while the company and it’s employees go in the tank.
A CEO must be viewed like the captain of a ship. He is ultimately responsible for the vessel and it’s crew. More than one Captain has been tried and convicted for malfeasance.

Has anyone thought of sending a bonus to Captain Smith (or his heirs) for the sinking of the Titanic?

When Captain Kidd was sponsored by the Kings investors to go ‘a roving’ and came back empty loosing their investment and accused of misappropriating the bounty, he was slapped in a dungeon for a year, tried, hung twice and his body bound in an iron cage to hang out on the quay for one year.
Gone are the good old days.

What does 50 Million mean to the NEA and the USA.
The 50 Million dollars are spread throughout 50 States and to over 4,000 local and state agencies. The distribution is not equal for all states, it is driven by population density, but it does only average 1 Million dollars per state or based on 4,000 agencies working with art grants, $12,500. Per agency.

Compare this modest dole out to the Citi Banks Corporate Jet. Both again have the 50 Million dollar figure but the corporate jet accommodates 12 corporate executives compared to the NEA Art program which directly impacts thousands of individuals. In comparison each seat on the airplane costs 4 Million 167 thousand dollars per executive before fuel and usage.

$50 Million to NEA, on the other hand, will directly impact on 14,422 jobs in the Arts, according to a press release issued by Americans for the
The NEA funds are leveraged by 7 to 1 by local, state and private donations leveraging the 50 Million dollar figure to a $350 Million.
The 2007 Arts & Economic Prosperity III study indicates nonprofit arts and their audiences generate 166.2 Billion dollars yearly; support 5.7 Million jobs and return nearly 30 Billion in local, state and federal government revenues every year.

The Arts support the mind and the economy.