After reading Mike Cannon's fair and reasonable comment March 16, "Public funding of arts is as noble as it is controversial," where he quoted me, I sat wondering how I, an amateur, could explain to him my position against federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
Mr. Cannon wrote, "The arts are a big part of our heritage here. Settlers along the Wasatch Front promoted and provided for the uplifting and edifying effects of wholesome music, dance, drama, visual arts and literature in concert with eking out a living in this barren desert. Artistic expression had and has a refining, ennobling influence on folks. It's a good public investment."I am assuming that when Mr. Cannon says "public investment," he means federal money. I value the arts and believe they can have a "refining influence" but do not believe federal funding is good.
The pioneers were outside the boundaries of the United States for many years and managed to promote and provide for the arts without federal aid. I applaud and am proud of the efforts of the settlers and pioneers and am personally grateful to have grown up in a society which valued wholesome arts.
Mr. Cannon said that for me "wholesome" was the "sticking point." It is, of course, important to me and in rereading my letter I can see why he believes my main objection to NEA is that sometimes it promotes disgusting and contemptible art. However, my real "sticking point" is federal funding, not art obscenity. I tried in my letter, rather ineptly, to give several reasons why federal funding was wrong, and art obscenity was one of the reasons.
I would like to list the reasons why I object to federal funding for the arts:
1. It is easy for radicals to get hold of federal bureaucracies and use them to further their personal agendas, which I feel has happened to NEA.
2. Federal bureaus are too far removed from the people.
3. I don't want the federal government to decide which art to support.
4. I don't believe artists are any more important than any other segment of our society, and it is unfair to fund them and not others.
5. I object to spending tax money for unwholesome and repulsive art.
6. The federal government is going broke and cannot afford such programs.
7. In my mind the Constitution is specific about the kind of things the federal government should fund, and NEA does not qualify.
8. "Art welfare" promotes some mediocre and questionable art and can be debilitating to some who receive it.
9. Federal funding is a very inefficient way to support the arts as most of federal tax money is used in administration and distribution costs by bureaucrats and very little gets to the places it should go. I have heard or read someplace that only about 28 cents of each tax dollar is left after bureaucrats use the rest for costs. The federal government can't "give" to us any-thing it doesn't take from us.
10. The "arts community" receives more than $8 billion a year from private donations and doesn't need taxpayer money.
The conclusion of Mr. Cannon's comment states that he feels "the arts are the icing on our societal cake." The arts are very important in our lives, but if I had my say, it would be "religion is the icing on our societal cake" because I believe religion has a more profound and positive effect on our lives. I truly believe that if we want the arts to be a positive influence in our society, local people must have control over them and not the federal government.