National Endowment for the ArtsFunding awards for dance in 2010
Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:18 PM
Here is the list from the NEA site of awards in the American Masterpieces program for dance for 2010 (62 awards totalling over $2.3 million):
Another group is in the category of Access to Artistic Excellence:
Whether people think NEA should be spending more or less than this is another matter that I won't take up here.
Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:36 PM
Is your confusion about the numbers, 1.7M vs. 2.3M? (The last link is displaying a "404" server error for me, at least right now.)
It could be a timing issue, the available data, or poor research. The number from American Masterpieces would anger the Cybercast News Source, whose parent organization, Media Research Center, states on its website:
For everyone, NEA funding is a pertinent topic to discuss for us, and is on mission.
Posted 12 August 2010 - 03:47 PM
I was grateful, however, for the link to the Princeton study because it included a chart on frequency of attendance, which the most recent NEA report did not. I found it fascinating because although far more people go to see musicals than ballets or operas, they don't actually go that much more frequently. Classical concert attendees may be less numerous than musical lovers, but they're more active.
I reiterate my objection to the representation ballet gets on PBS, and I say this as an opera lover: if more Americans attend the ballet than the opera, why do opera broadcasts on PBS so far outnumber dance broadcasts?
Posted 12 August 2010 - 04:26 PM
I don't know if the Media Research Center posted that article to object to this expenditure of Federal funds. Perhaps they would be even more upset to know the amount spent on dance was even higher than they thought!
The new Chair at NEA has made it his mission to remind people that artists working in the arts not only have jobs themselves, but generate other jobs. I just returned from sold-out performances at the Vail Dance Festival and the Central City Opera Festival in Colorado. It was great that all those artists (and support staff) had work this summer, but it was also great that a lot of restaurant and hotel owners and workers in those otherwise-deserted resort towns had work generated by the festivals. From the age and demeanor of the audience members, I seriously doubt that many would have visited Vail or Central City to go hiking in the summer!
Both of those festivals had substantial private funding from individuals and foundations, along with small grants from NEA. But an important role NEA money has played over the years is the "seal of approval" that tells small foundations and private donors that this is a worthwhile group to support. That's an important role for NEA to continue, I think, regardless of the size of those grants.
Posted 12 August 2010 - 05:43 PM
It's quite clear from the article that CNS News is definitely unhappy. I posted this article in the LInks this morning and went back and forth about it, not because of the source as the tone. But links must be posted without fear or favor. I especially liked this:
Standing up for the little guy, by gum.
Posted 13 August 2010 - 08:20 AM
Posted 15 August 2010 - 02:03 PM
Posted 15 August 2010 - 03:48 PM
Certainly I think of the arts as an essential part of what makes life worth living, but given that hundreds of millions of Americans are managing without any opera, it's not a very good argument.
The part about arts actually getting very little in the way of government money could be made more persuasively than it is. Years and years ago I remember that many people attending the Oscars wore lapel pins with stamps painted on them. They were intended to illustrate that the contribution of the average taxpayer to the NEA was equivalent to the price of a postage stamp. That struck me as a good illustration, but I doubt many people remembered it once the award ceremony began. I happen not to be much acquainted with Hollywood flicks, so I remembered the lapel pins and thought it was a pretty good argument. Too bad it was a one-off. But I'm also very wary of this sort of argument because it can end up sounding like: Don't worry. The government actually wastes very little money on the arts. It wastes far more money on other stuff. To which a person could easily responding that the government shouldn't be wasting money, period.
I think that arts institutions could do worse than give concrete illustrations of how they contribute to the life of the community, economic and otherwise. I know it's difficult to measure, but my own experience with fundraising tells me that donors respond well to itemized lists of how money is spent and for what it's needed, as well as specific examples of how the organization benefits the community. But I acknowledge that I'm dealing with voluntary donors. In the case of state funding, this is more difficult to do precisely because people don't get much say in how the money is spent, and that's why the arguments have to be that much stronger.
North Americans may be operating under a particular disadvantage because I don't think there is any particular sense of national pride associated with the arts, as I suspect there is in other countries. Years ago I was introduced to a retired Soviet general, and when he found out I was a dancer, he immediately said something to the effect of, ah, but our ballet is the best in the world. Can you imagine an American general saying something similar?
Posted 16 August 2010 - 01:58 PM
I agree and I think the lack of such an attitude is a major hurdle for American arts. In other countries it is taken almost for granted that thriving arts organizations are a credit to the nation and a source of pride.
Nope. Of course, this esteem for artists and writers can have its drawbacks – poets may be largely ignored by our leaders, military and otherwise, but at least a US dictator, assuming he read much poetry in the first place, would be unlikely to ship any of them off to a gulag or one of our trusty black sites, even if such actions can be read as a backhanded compliment to the power of art.
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