Friday, November 14, 2008

Government Funding for the Arts

When one spends money on something, it is very hard for him/her not to give opinion to this thing. This theory applies to government funding for the arts as well. It is nothing wrong for a government funds artistic expression, as long as it does not have intention to interfere artists’ creativity and the idea in the arts. It means that the decision of government funding for the arts is not made base on the government’s preference. Even the government disagrees some of the messages being expressed in the art, it still willing to support. For me, this is the idealistic condition for the artists to accept government funding. However, if the government only allocates funds to those arts that share the same political views as theirs, I believe that this government merely uses art as the propaganda tool. In such situation, I will not support the idea of government funding for the arts.


During the Great Depression, the U.S. government provided funding to artists through the Works Project Administration (WPA). The main purpose of setting this organization is to provide jobs to the unemployed artists, but not to promote the arts. Although WPA served its function in that specific period of time, I don’t agree that providing jobs to artists is the main reason of government funding to the arts. I believe that promoting arts to the ordinary people is supposed the main motive of government funding to the arts. Nevertheless, the goal is difficult to achieve.


Talk about China again. From year1949 to 1989, the government gave salaries to all the art institutes and took care of their spending. As return, the government selected artists, and their art works were used as political propaganda tools. However, since 1990, the central government has withdrawn almost all the funding. Today, artists have to find a way to make a living. They sell more and more stuffs to the art collectors all over the world. Ironically, cutting government funding indirectly opens the door to the Chinese artists and opens the door for the rest of people in the world to know more about modern Chinese art works.  

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