Government's spending of public funds in support of the humanities was the topic of discussion in Thursday's meeting in the Salt Lake County Commission Chambers.
The purpose of the panel discussion, according to Delmont Oswald, director of the Utah Humanities Council, was to educate the public and "get them talking to each other in reasonable voices" about important issues concerning humanity. Oswald felt the discussion was a success.Wm. James Mortimer, editor and publisher of the Deseret News, introduced the four panelists, and editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, James E. Shelledy, moderated.
Of the four participating panelists, only Joseph A. Rosenblatt, former chairman of EIMCO Corporation, and chairman of the Industrial Relations Board, expressed concern over government's involvement in the humanities, saying all funding should cease.
Rosenblatt supports the privatization of the humanities. "We need to be careful how we use public money," he said. He maintains the cessation of funding would have no direct affect on the humanities.
The other panelists - poet and author Emma Lou Thayne; David P. Gardner, former president of U. of U. and the University of California; and Founding Chair of the Utah Humanities Council Anne O. Leavitt - took issue with Rose-nblatt.
Gardiner argued that the union of public and private funds has helped quash the idea of the humanities being an elitist's arena. An idea that has hurt the humanities in the past. He maintains it's government's role to help people enjoy life, and he believes, so far, they've performed satisfactorily.
Leavitt agreed. "Government should be concerned with the humanities." But she also agreed that the use of public monies should be carefully watched. "A lot of good things can happen without lots of money being spent," she said.
"It's what we're all about," said Thayne, arguing that certain aspects of society would be harmed if the funding ceased. "We'd be impoverished without it."