Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Government Support at a Price

"The Ann Arbor Film Festival could lose its state funding under a legislative amendment that singles out the annual event, and one lawmaker is accusing the festival of showing pornography." Ann Arbor News 04/30/06

Censorship… Public Funding for the Arts… Which is more important? Am I against censorship – Yep. Am I for Public Funding for the Arts – not really. The biggest problem I have with Public Funding for the Arts is the dependence it creates for non-profit organizations. In a former career, I was an Arts Council Director and non-profit Gallerist. I spent a large portion of my time writing grants and raising cash to fulfill the matching financial requirements of the aforementioned grants. Not long after I left for the greener pastures of art education, I heard that state-level funding for community arts organizations was drastically cut by nearly 90%, in Missouri. Why was it cut? - because it was the current whim of the newly elected state administration. The cuts caused state-wide closures of fledgling arts organizations. Many never returned.

In the grand scheme of a $200k festival, it's on about $13k that they are losing, so if the Ann Arbor Festival cut the state umbilical cord and spent the time for grant writing on fundraising and such, then they would not be held to the impulsive quirks of state legislators chasing the religious vote. Freedom of Speech always has more meaning when you have to work for it. Yes it is a right, but not a handout. Why should the taxpayers pay for one more thing they don’t believe in (we have enough of that going on with the current war). If every twentieth taxpayer supports funding for the arts, then let them donate individually to the specific programs they appreciate.

I do not receive public funding for my art, yet I produce whatever I want. If the state or federal government granted me money, I would then feel obliged to “not rock the censorship boat”. I’m not saying I want to produce borderline-pornographic videos as performance art – I just believe if someone wants to do that its their right, as long as they pick-up the check. Additionally, I question the project directors of such government endowment programs that take it upon themselves to laud over the art world as judge, jury and executioner (for those artists that feel one more sting of rejection). Why should some artists get what essentially equals an art world lottery ticket and others get another week eating cold hot dogs; just because of the whim of a few government appointed administrators (and possibly friends?). If you really want to level the playing field, reject the notion of government support at the cost of freedom of speech. – DN


Anonymous said...

An interesting comment on this censorship thought goes to the history of the movie industry. Private enterprise but still censored by the government (although they try to call it self censorship). Pornography films and television by the way make more money and have more potenial to make money than the regular movie industry. Of course movies even if they are porn or oscar winners are art are they not? So I am not so sure that being a private industry can always save you from the evils of government censorship. Food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Another thought to add is how does one respond to corporate or patron censorship? I think this was one reason for government sponsorship to allow freedom to do uncensored art. Odd how things go around into a circle on that.

Atuque the Old said...

I support you. Although from where i come, everything is censored except the net.. long live internet