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December 30, 2008 9:27 PM   Subscribe

No Bailout for the Arts? Many organizations could use the help.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (21 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Giving government money to the arts won't fix the economy. (It remains to be seen whether giving government money to GM will help fix the economy, but at least it has a chance to do so.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:30 PM on December 30, 2008


It seems like the problem is that they are already dependent on bailouts, they're just called donations. They don't really have a sustainable revenue model so they are very sensitive to interruptions in that cash flow.

Ironically, the same argument was made against the auto bailout.
posted by smackfu at 9:34 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I maintain that the financial sector bailout indirectly aids the arts. For example, you can't tell me that some small percentage of the $25 million recently handed out to a particularly needy Merrill Lynch executive won't be put towards lining the walls of his new apartment with crass contemporary art.
posted by killdevil at 9:38 PM on December 30, 2008


HEY GUISE HOW ABOUT A BAILOUT FOR X AMIRITE?
posted by signalnine at 9:44 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Funding to the arts has been pretty fickle throughout uh history. This monarch just doesn't care all too much for all that acting-painting ribble-rabble.
posted by mmmleaf at 9:46 PM on December 30, 2008


If the federal government is going to start printing money like it's a Depression, let's bring back the old New Deal arts project for artists, musicians, actors, and writers that ran from 1936 through 1943.
posted by homunculus at 10:03 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


How often must it be said? Arts funding is not about economics but politics.
From this old Newsweek feature:

"You want return? For every dollar government invests in nonprofit arts, eight dollars are returned to the economy. You want economic stimulus? The arts generated $134 billion in economic activity across America in 2001. You want jobs? The arts produce 4.85 million full-time equivalent American jobs."

Another fact: more people go to arts events each year than go to sporting events -- which get huge government subsidies despite making enough profits to pay the players millions. Fact is, legislators are mostly lawyers, jocks and philistines. And not very good with economics either.
posted by binturong at 10:09 PM on December 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


Giving government money to the arts won't fix the economy. (It remains to be seen whether giving government money to GM will help fix the economy, but at least it has a chance to do so.)

Do you actually understand what's wrong with the economy?

Of course, giving money to GM won't "fix" the economy, but not giving them the money would make the economy much worse because millions of job would be lost. Only in the conservative ideologues fever dreams is an economy with millions fewer jobs somehow "better" then one with them.

It's the same for artists. Either artists make money, which they spend on food and stuff, or they have no money, have to sell their houses and (hopefully) move in with their parents, or homeless shelters. Everyone who loses their job who has to give up on their mortgage is another reduction in the price of houses. A number that fell 18% last month, by the way.

In order to keep the economy, at least on the consumer side, going people need steady jobs that they can depend on, otherwise they'll hoard money for "tough times". That makes sense from the individual perspective, but when everyone does it, it makes the economy worse.

Of course the consumer side is only one part of the equation. When corporations do the same thing, they end up laying more and more people off, who also spend much less. But in addition to spending less, their quality of life goes down immensely.

So the purpose of the stimulus is two fold, it's to help (not "fix) the economy, and also prevent millions of people from having sever downgrades to their quality of life. It doesn't matter what the government actually spends money on, whether it's art or cars or solar panels, so long as people have jobs to do while the economy recovers.

The bottom line is that your comment is entirely economically illiterate, and it's important for people to understand the difference between their ill-conceived opinions and actual facts.
posted by delmoi at 10:11 PM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pump government money into the arts or infrastructure or research, or whatever. It will improve the economy.

The Norwegian prime minister said a few weeks ago: Don't worry. We are Keynesians.

There was much rejoice.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:12 PM on December 30, 2008


I agree the arts should be bailed out. I'm looking for some cash so i can get some funds to piss on an ice sculpture of a bison while wearing a Batman costume.
posted by dead cousin ted at 10:30 PM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


These "bailouts" are not giveaways. The government is buying loans, buying equity, and generally trying to keep cash flowing. But assuming these bailed out companies don't go bankrupt, the government will make much of this bailout money back. If you want to be crazily optimistic, there might even be a profit in the long-term.
posted by specialfriend at 12:04 AM on December 31, 2008


As in any field, them that makes the most noise gets the most attention.

Its great fun to characterize all arts as Christ-hatin', flag-pissin', beret-wearin', McDonalds-hatin', liberal wackos.

The reality is that most art in the United States - funded, successful art - is community sensitive to the point of being terrified of new stuff. Your community theatre is going to have bigger audiences doing Oklahoma for the millionth time than doing The Drowsy Chaperone, for example. And The Drowsy Chaperone's only sin is that famous art critic Joe Sixpack hasn't heard of it (and won't until they make a move version of it - it took that Chicago movie, for example, to make that 30 year old chunk of Fosse excrement into a huge local theatre hit, but I digress).

So...

Arts funding largely goes to art education for children. Art education has proven to increase a kids' ability to work collaboratively, communicate effectively, think critically and solve problems creatively.

Restaurants and small businesses tend to pop up in arts districts and come to rely on the steady traffic of people coming and going to the local theatre or museum or what have you.

Artists of all sorts tend to be poorly paid (if paid at all) but their contribution to society makes our kids smarter, some of our businesses more successful, and the place just a lot prettier and more pleasant.

Anyhow, what binturong and delmoi said x 1000.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:09 AM on December 31, 2008 [5 favorites]


These "bailouts" are not giveaways. The government is buying loans, buying equity, and generally trying to keep cash flowing. But assuming these bailed out companies don't go bankrupt, the government will make much of this bailout money back. If you want to be crazily optimistic, there might even be a profit in the long-term.

If you were talking about any other country than the United States I'd believe you. However, the prior history of America's transfers of taxpayer funds to corporate entities has demonstrated that the strings attached are of the flimsiest sort and are being pulled by the weakest puppets who are themselves controlled by the corporations who pay to elect them.

I expect a few years from now to read outraged articles on sites like the Nation about how the profits from an economic turnaround are not collected in order to further stimulate the economy while WP and FT editorials proclaim it the only reasonable thing to do under the circumstances since the recovery is too fragile to have the government take money back.

At least with arts funding you get art.
posted by srboisvert at 1:37 AM on December 31, 2008


This would turn everyone into an artist and not in a good way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:41 AM on December 31, 2008


More on MOCA's troubles in Los Angeles:
Nov 19 LA Times
Dec 18 NY Times
posted by redteam at 3:52 AM on December 31, 2008


It seems like MOCA has been in trouble for a few years now. They actually had a sizable endowment, they've just been spending it to cover operational costs. Kind of a last gasp effort, since the endowment is the only thing that will protect them from something like this year's economic issues.
posted by smackfu at 6:51 AM on December 31, 2008


The reality is that most art in the United States - funded, successful art - is community sensitive to the point of being terrified of new stuff. Your community theatre is going to have bigger audiences doing Oklahoma for the millionth time than doing The Drowsy Chaperone, for example. And The Drowsy Chaperone's only sin is that famous art critic Joe Sixpack hasn't heard of it (and won't until they make a move version of it - it took that Chicago movie, for example, to make that 30 year old chunk of Fosse excrement into a huge local theatre hit, but I digress).

SIGNED.

Honest to God, everyone gets up in arms about the NEA and how they donate funding to weird contemporary artists -- but the bulk of NEA's grants actually go to individual states' own arts funding programs, and it's the STATES who then further divy it up among other individual programs and foundations, and it's often those individual foundations that decide who to give it to. Yes, the NEA does make grants directly to individuals at times, and yes, so do state programs, but it's far more likely that the "NEA funding" someone received went from the NEA to the state arts council to the city arts council to the Foundation For Contemporary Art And Trucking Foundation or whatever, an institution which itself also receives private funding, and the FFCATF was the one who decided to give it to the guy dressed as Batman peeing on a buffalo. The NEA had nothing to do with that decision process, nine times out of ten.

And I say this as someone who works for a non-profit arts organization -- we've never gotten anything directly from the NEA, but we've gotten funding from people who themselves get funding from the NEA. And they take that NEA funding and THEY decide what to do with it, and they split that NEA funding among hundreds of other recipients. And we weren't even asking for much -- all we specifically asked for (and you often have to specify what you'd use the money for when you apply for these grants, by the way) was enough to cover the administrative costs of a contest we run each year.

So each person's individual contribution to the NEA funding that went to one particular indivdual probably works out to be less than a penny.

Thanks for listening to that rant, the dismissal of arts funding as "giving money to talentless hacks" is something that really chaps my ass.

But as for homunculus' link:

If the federal government is going to start printing money like it's a Depression, let's bring back the old New Deal arts project for artists, musicians, actors, and writers that ran from 1936 through 1943.

Again, SIGNED. The works done during that period were fantastic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 AM on December 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Perhaps what has happened to a couple of groups in the bay area is happening all over. Both Shakespeare Santa Cruz and the Magic Theatre have had deficits built up in the past that had, until now, been allowed to carry over. As long as the debt wasn't continuing to grow, no one was worried. But in the current economy, the chips were called in, precipitating emergency fund drives. (SSC was threatened with extinction and managed to raise over $300K in a week. The Magic needs to do the same.)

The link to AMTSJ seems to show it to be somewhat of a special case, more on the order of a $2M fraud. While I feel sorry for the actors and designers who are affected, I don't really mourn its disappearance. Rather I hope it will be replaced by an organization that can be a little more innovative than thenone that stopped hiring local talent and had switched to programming Disney musicals and bland Broadway retreads.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:54 AM on December 31, 2008


Your community theatre is going to have bigger audiences doing Oklahoma for the millionth time than doing The Drowsy Chaperone, for example.

If you look at the last link, you'll see that North Shore Music Theatre is currently doing the premiere of "High School Musical 2", in place of their annual production of "A Christmas Carol". It didn't do quite as well as they expected- wonder why!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:57 PM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Condoms and Art are Stimulating (to the Economy); Corporate Tax Cuts Not So Much
posted by homunculus at 10:01 AM on January 28, 2009


The Galleries' Last Gasp
posted by homunculus at 2:34 PM on January 29, 2009


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