Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Heritage Foundation formulated a number of arguments against the NEA decades ago. These arguments are listed below with corresponding rebuttals.

  • Federal investment in the arts is negligible; they’ll never miss it.  NEA is the single largest national funder of nonprofit arts in the U.S.
  • Federal investment in the arts discourages charitable giving.  NEA grants help leverage a 9 to 1 match in private charitable gifts and other state and local public funding.
  • Federal government must reduce its budget and cannot afford the luxury of the arts.  The Federal government cannot afford to NOT support the arts. With only a $146 million annual appropriations, the NEA investments in the arts helps contribute to a $704 billion economic arts and culture economic industry, contributing 4.2 percent of the annual GDP and supporting 4.7 million jobs that yields a $24 billion trade surplus for the country.
  • Federal funding is welfare for cultural elitists.  Forty percent of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods.
  • Federal funding of the arts only benefits the major arts institutions in large cities.  NEA funding reaches small, rural towns through its “Our Town” grants and specifically helps our wounded soldiers and veterans with effective arts therapy.
  • Federal government shouldn’t pick winners and losers. It lowers the quality of American art.  Government bureaucrats do not choose grant winners. It is done by peer review panels representing highly respected arts practitioners and lay people.
  • NEA will fund pornography and blasphemy. NEA does not fund art that specifically attempts to offend people. Its goal is to fund the highest quality art that can serve the most number of people, especially those living in underserved areas.
  • There is no federal role in investing in the arts.  Most every modern country in the world identifies an important role for the arts to thrive in their country in order for their people to express themselves, their culture, and their way of life to others.
  • There is no Constitutional justification for the federal government to support the arts.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution specifically authorizes Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”