Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hey, America — vote!

Voting illustrations - Norman Rockwell
Apparently there are some 90 million potential voters here in the U.S. who will not be exercising their right to vote today — perhaps too busy, too lazy, too put off by the relentless negativity of the campaigns, or just too unconcerned with the outcome of the election to be bothered. Maybe they simply think the election doesn’t affect them or things they care about.

If any of you who are reading this are among those 90 million, think on this: the next U.S. president will set a tone for the nation, and his intentions will likely become law in some areas of particular importance to art and artists in this country.

If you think the world of art and artists is somehow removed from, and unaffected by, national politics — look again.

The two presidential candidates have distinctly different views on the importance of the arts in society, and the role of government in providing an environment in which the arts can thrive — notably in the form of government funding for the arts, art related programs in schools, public funding for museums, libraries, public art spaces and organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Americans for the Arts Action Fund, a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting legislation favorable to the arts, has compiled a chart of the 2012 Presidential Candidates Arts Positions, and a Congressional Report Card that may help you understand where the candidates stand on issues affecting the arts in the U.S.

It matters.

There are countries in this world where people literally risk their lives to cast a ballot; here, all you have to do is get out from behind the computer for 20 minutes and drive down to the polls.

Really.

(Images above: Norman Rockwell)

12 thoughts on “Hey, America — vote!

  1. Jan Skrabanek

    Hi,

    although born and living in Central Europe, I’m impertinent enough to comment on the article. The “Arts Positions Chart” looks really straightforward but it exposes just one topic and puts it out of context. Given that USA have been in economical decline for past 4 years maybe the question american voter should ask himself should be also: “Who makes more reasonable economic desicions?”…

    You know, All I want to say is that it’s not that hard for any politician to take someone else’s money and spend it for something noble in order to get some votes…

  2. Charley Parker Post author

    Thanks, Jan. Your comment is relevant and not impertinent at all.

    Yes, the topic of the Candidates Arts Positions chart is intentionally about that one part of their policies in particular, as that is the interest of the organization that compiled it, and is also my interest in writing this article.

    “Who makes the more reasonable economic decisions?” is indeed the question. Should our tax dollars go to programs that help the arts or to another tiny part of another small pork barrel project within the enormous and bloated budget for military spending?

    Many Americans have a distorted picture (promoted by one of the political parties) of the size of spending on the arts as a percentage of total U.S. federal spending, thinking that it is something like 5 or 6% of the budget, when in fact it is closer to 0.066% — a little over one half of one percent.

    “Who makes more reasonable economic decisions?” is exactly the question.

  3. J. Tueller

    I certainly don’t think it follows that slashing funding for education and the arts in favor of radically expanding military spending and tax breaks for the wealthiest is likely to help a nation’s long term economic health.

    In fact, it was precisely that agenda that caused the U.S economic downturn in the first place.

    Just my two cents.

  4. Julia Kelly

    Seems to me the Arts are very important in hard times. FDR thought so in the Great Depression , Hitler was obsessed with Art in World War 2 and the Communist certainly knew to supress the Arts- People dont comprehend how important the Arts sre to the health of a society or to us as individuals- until forced to hide DiVincis in haystacks or hide inspiring art behind propaganda posters All things that have happened in the last century- sorry the rant of an art teacher!

  5. Charley Parker Post author

    So if we eliminate the 0.066% of the federal budget that goes to arts funding, or more specifically, the 0.012% that goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, it will fix the enormous damage inflicted on our economy from 2001 to 2009, and restore it to pre-2001 levels?

    Wow. I didn’t realize it was that easy! Why didn’t we do this sooner?

    Incidentally, it’s been my experience that those who bandy the word “socialism” around as a pejorative, particularly those who get their talking points from cable “news”, don’t really have a clear concept of what socialism is or isn’t. Look it up (in a library, not on a cable news website).

    Oh wait, I forgot, we should eliminate funding for libraries — spending government funds on sharing books and information is… socialism! (Grin.)

  6. David J. Teter

    How sad if funding for the arts continues to get cut or ‘Mittigated’ ; ) (sorry…I could not resist ), the money WILL certainly get spent elsewhere.
    If we wait for everything, like the economy, to be fixed before we take seriously funding for arts programs we will wait a long time, it will never happen.
    Instead of the question ” Can we afford to fund the arts?” maybe we should ask “Can we afford NOT to fund the arts?”
    I too was unaware of the tiny percentage that actually goes to arts funding.

    BTW Americans for the Arts Action Fund has a really nice logo.

    VOTE

    Did anyone else notice the man in the second painting from the top is also the same one in line in the bottom painting? The bottom one must be the interior illustration. Classic Rockwell.
    I wonder if he ever made up his mind?

  7. Jan Skrabanek

    Actually my point really wasn’t that more reasonable economic decision means cutting money for art. I was rather pointing to need to evaluate each program in its complexity. You know looking for the whole structure and bigger picture. E.G. I dont find Romney’s program for art much positive but there are issues of great economic impact in Obama’s program that I don’t really want to see realised even if it means that I wouldnt see the art program realised either…

    Considering Ceparie’s comment: His style of commenting is really rude but I too use word socialism as pejorative. Living in Central Europe, my parents and grandparents have had really first hand experiance of socialism and it wasn’t much pleasing. I also studied different economic systems from academical point of view (I studied economics) and have some serious arguments against socialism. I don’t want to sink deep into debate for this is an art blog but I see very often that people engaged in art (music, visual art, movies) tend to incline to socialism. Sometimes I get this feeling like it’s rather from idealistic point of view than from serious comparative study of both systems (capitalism and socialism).

    Anyway… I don’t comment here very often but I’ve been reading this blog for 5 or 6 years, so I’ll take this as a opportunity to thank you Charlie for your work. Lines and Colors are like gateway to thousands of beautiful words. Thanks to you I found so many great artists!!! :)

  8. Charley Parker Post author

    I understand, Jan. I think we both agree that these issues, and economic systems, are complex and not easily encapsulated in a brief sentence. My take on Ceparie’s comment (I usually try not to be snarky, but in this case I couldn’t resist) is that too often these concepts get tossed around and repeated in a simplistic knee-jerk reaction, without any thought to the complexities of reality.

    Thanks for the kind words about Lines and Colors. I hope to bring to light many more interesting artists in the months and years ahead.

  9. David Murray

    Charley, I think you may place too much importance on government funding of the Arts. Indeed it is a small fraction of the overall budget, but we would do well to remember that it is an even smaller fraction of the overall spending on the Arts by individuals and corporations using private money. Most successful artists are successful small business people as well, knowing what it takes to create and market their ideas and, like it or not, they thrive when there exists a large and prosperous bourqeois class of people with plenty of discretionary income to support what they do rather than waiting with their hand out for trickle down patronage from Washington.

    Current, shall we say somewhat socialist economic policies will remove vast amounts of private money over the next 24 months from those who do the most to support the arts by their purchases of the art they enjoy.

    By the way, one little known fact regarding the so-called tax cuts for the rich is that these were tax cuts for small business people, a fraction of whom happen to be rich. Small business people: see reference to successful artists above.

  10. ceparie

    Is Obama living up to your expectations? What is your opinion on the Bengazi cover up, the IRS targeting special interest groups, and the Associated Press journalist’s invasion of privacy for the sake of national security? Am I watching too much cable TV again?

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