A recent issue of our paper, the Wichita Eagle, featured a letter to the editor written by Lawrence Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, denouncing public funding (i.e. taxes) of the arts. You can read his letter to the eagle here:
I have sent a response to the Eagle, but in case they don't publish it I thought I would share it here:
I would like to take a moment to address Mr. Reed’s recent letter to the editor “Beware of Government Spending in the Arts.” While I understand his motivations, his argument is contingent on a limited understanding of what Art is. Like many, Mr. Reed has confused Art with entertainment. While both are worthy of our time, their purposes are different. Entertainment is created with the motivation of making money by reaching a broad audience and providing enjoyment in our daily lives. While Art can do that, its primary responsibility is to produce works that can be challenging, powerful, and sometimes beautiful. Art tells the story of the cultures in which it exists. It is not a commodity, it is not safe, it is not necessarily easy, and profit is not its primary goal. While government funding for the arts is incredibly small—only 1.5% for the city of Wichita, based on the 2015-16 adopted budget—the impact on arts organizations in the city is great. This small amount of funding allows our local arts community continue to function, and does monetarily benefit our city (despite Mr. Reed’s claims). Like other public services, the cultural benefit of the Arts deserves continued public investment.