At a time when the public is wary of government support of the arts, the state of Utah has developed an artist-grant program that is a good start toward regaining the trust of the public and financial backing of the arts.
In 1999, I received a small grant to help furnish my studio with sorely needed equipment and materials. At the time I received my grant, money was also awarded to a musician, writer, dancer and various other visual artists. They were all citizens of the state of Utah, and their desires to create something were made possible by the Utah Arts Council. Utahns are privileged to live in a community that acknowledges art as a priority.
Art serves many functions: to beautify, question and comment on our society. Art gives people an opportunity to expand what they know and the rare chance to see the world through someone else's eyes.
I am a ceramic artist, and I make functional pottery to be used in the home. The value of a handmade object often seems outdated in our fast paced and disposable world, where eating out is the norm, and use of special dishes is rare. My work reminds people that there is value in taking the time to gather with friends and family, and pleasure can be found in the simplest activities, like drinking a cup of water. Handmade pots remind us that there is more than one way to experience life.
Public support for the arts is a partnership. The public must trust that there is value in the work that is produced, even if they personally don't like it. The artist has the responsibility to be grateful for the gift they have been given and to use the money to its fullest potential toward a project they are passionate about.