I recently purchased an Internet radio, so am now about to access (without charge) my favorite public radio stations from throughout the US. One theme that I hear on all of them is that proposed public (government) funding cuts will have a devastating impact — on them, on whom, to what extent, etc.?
I am sure these proposed funding cuts will have a profound impact on each of these stations, and that I will be worse off because of them, but these stations, and arts advocates throughout the US, must tell us what comprises a devastating impact. Without specifics, these calls for help sound like calls of desperation, or worse yet, like whining. With so many Americans having been personally devastated by the economic crisis, arts organizations facing governmental funding cuts had either offer a better argument (than devastation) or find other strategies to continue their excellent work.
The “instrumental” arguments for funding for the arts are tired (economic development, arts education impact on other learning, etc.), and arts advocates are afraid to talk about intrinsic value. But, finding language and arguments that support the intrinsic value of the arts is the only true vehicle for establishing validity and societal value.
Many enlightened individuals and service organizations have utilized stories to illustrate the arts’ intrinsic value, avoiding the difficult task of finding convincing abstract language. Perhaps the story strategy will prove effective — surely it will have some positive impact. This being said, I could not feel more strongly that it’s time for us to dive in the cold water and make our case with language and arguments that speak clearly, and unashamedly about the value of our field.