We are ambassadors. All artists, teachers of art, and consumers of art are ambassadors for art to the rest of the world. We must never forget this. Increasingly, we are placed in the unfortunate position of having to justify our collective existence. This is not the most fun circumstance in which artists might find themselves, but it is also a wonderful opportunity for us to sharpen our arguments in support of arts and arts education funding.
In the wake of the recent fallout from an article appearing in The Daily Texan recently about defunding arts programs at the university level (mentioned in a previous post), I have had a number of conversations about this subject with teachers, administrators, other colleagues of mine, and students. Many have crafted finely-honed and articulate reasons in favor of arts funding. Some have one argument at their disposal, maybe two. Some however, have responded with complete bewilderment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I just can’t believe that someone [the author of the article] can advocate for cutting arts funding. Doesn’t this person know how important art is? Art is everywhere. If there were no art, there would be no music, no television programming, no films, no advertising, etc.”
You can’t believe it? Well, believe it.
There is no rule, anywhere, that will hold anyone who has access to the purse strings of a university responsible for making a balanced, rationale choice in the form of considering how important art is to culture, and, moreover, how vital arts education is to a society. Disbelieving that someone could advocate for cutting arts funding is no longer a valid response (not that it ever was). We in the arts community must always be ready to advocate and educate those who would oppose our existence via public support.
I have formed a new page on this site entitled “Arguments for Educational Arts Funding.” [I took down the Worst Titles List. While I'm still convicted about it, I feel that this new page is a more responsible use of the space on this site.] Please visit it and contribute your own arguments for arts funding. Feel free to link to this page and get as many people involved as possible. As we have seen, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to this subject, and we must always be prepared to defend ourselves against those who would take away our support.