Well, there's good news and there's bad news for arts funding as it relates to the freshly passed economic stimulus bill.
Good news: The bill passed with $50 million in additional funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
Bad news: That amount was almost axed from the bill.
Good news: Arts workers and organizations mobilized to speak up for themselves and contact their representatives to preserve this funding.
Bad news: Many of our elected representatives, as well as our citizens, fail to recognize work in the arts as, well, work. The Senate wanted to rule out using stimulus money for museums, arts centers and theaters. Is it not self-evident that these institutions, besides supporting artists, provide actual concrete jobs to artists and non-artists alike? Might I also point out that, as these jobs provide relatively low wages, dedicating $1 million to museum jobs would likely employ more individuals than if we send that $1 million to even shovel-ready infrastructure projects? I'm not suggesting axing infrastructure investment; goodness knows we're grossly overdue for some. Neither am I suggesting that anything is right with poorly paying workers in the arts and culture. But I am wondering where people think arts and culture spending is so frivolously going if not towards creating and supporting jobs. P.S. Art is work, too!
For a little more on your legislators and this funding issue: www.nytimes.com/2009/02/16/arts/16mone.html.