“Arts funding is job funding”

Interesting little bit I’m reposting — per the author’s request within the post — from Jeffrey Salzberg‘s Facebook notes (someone I don’t know). Salzberg works as a stage lighting designer.

Recently, I had dinner with some lovely people and the conversation turned, as it so often does these days, to politics and economics. I mentioned the importance of arts funding, and one of my companions — an artist herself — said something like, “I care about arts funding, too, but jobs are more important.”


It’s time we stopped thinking of ourselves as charity cases. Arts jobs are no less important just because we make theatre (or music, or sculptures, or ballets, or . . .) than they would be if we sold cars or built computers — in fact, they have even more impact, proportionally, on our local economies. The arts are huge consumers of materials, which must be manufactured and transported and, of course, artists and other employees of arts organizations buy the same groceries, clothing, automobiles, and other goods as do those in other occupations. People who attend arts events are likely to dine out before, and go to bars afterward. In the United States, more people attend professional arts events than attend professional sports. I’ve seen estimates that every government dollar that goes to arts funding has between six and seven dollars of economic impact.

I’m writing this in September of 2010. In 7 weeks, we’ll be electing senators, members of Congress, legislators, and governors. This is a time when our elected officials — and those who want to be our elected officials — are most likely to listen to us. Ask . . . no, demand . . . that they tell you their positions on arts funding. You can post this note on your own Facebook profile by clicking “Share” below (“Share” also has the option of sending it as a private message), or you can post it as a link on your candidates’ walls by copying the URL and pasting it either as a link or as part of a comment.

Let your message be loud and let it be clear: “Arts funding is jobs funding.”

The sentiment expressed by the companion artist in the first paragraph is evidence of how poorly the arts are viewed in American culture. It’s not news to regular readers of The Aesthetic Elevator, but still worth reposting in order that we not forget the state of the arts, so to speak.

On the political front, I’m not nearly convinced — in fact I’m not convinced at all that government funding is a good way to create jobs or stimulate the economy, let alone a successful way. It hasn’t really worked so far according to the news reports, not in the timeframe people hoped for sure. However, if the men who redistribute our own tax dollars from their D.C. offices are going to continue to believe that it does work, they may as well be throwing money towards the arts too as Salzberg suggests.

About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

One Response to “Arts funding is job funding”

  1. “. It hasn’t really worked so far according to the news reports”

    The CBO says that it’s created well over a million jobs. It would have created more if a significant portion of it — at the behest of conservatives, when the administration was still laboring under the delusion that compromise was possible, that they weren’t being obstructionist for the sake of obstructionism — had not been dedicated to debt reduction (yes, we’ll need to deal with that, but doing it then was the equivalentworrying about water damage to the sofa when we should have been putting out the fire in the living room).

    Government spending certainly created jobs, and saved the nation, in the 30s…and a significant portion of that went to the arts.

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