Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cultural Stimulus

For ages the government has barely recognized the arts as a viable sector of the economy.  However, in February, congress managed to get a $50 million for the arts in the stimulus package.  According to an article  in Art in America, "despite years of economic impact studies showing how the arts stimulate local economies, from tourism dollars to construction industry jobs, arts groups still had to mount a feverish campaign to preserve a $50 million line that the House had passed but that the Senate eliminated."  Although 50 million is measly compared to what other industries have received it is wonderful that the arts were even included.  What many fail to realize is that not only do the arts employ artists and performers, but also art handlers, stage crews, accountants, cooks, security guards, maintenance people and more.  The arts provide over 6 million jobs nation wide!  The money will go to the National Endowment for the Arts to distribute in the form of grants only to non-profit groups whose projects focus on the preservation of jobs in the arts.  These groups must also have been awarded NEA grants within the last 4 years.  Not to fret for those groups who have not received grants, they still may be eligible to get a sub-grant from a state or regional arts organization.  

This is not a new idea.  In 1930's, as part of the New Deal, the Federal Art Project was created with a goal of employing out of work artists and to provide art for non federal buildings.  Not only did all of this new art boost morale in a depression era, but provided much needed jobs.  Could this new stimulus plan be similar to Roosevelt's F.A.P.?  We can only hope.    Your thoughts...

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