You Say "Abolish Public Arts Funding" Like It's a Bad Thing
Post #1577 • November 26, 2012, 11:25 AM • 2 Comments
A July 2012 article in Reason should have gotten more discussion in the art world than it did: "The Internet vs. the NEA: Is Kickstarter a secret right-wing plot to undermine the National Endowment for the Arts?"
In the wake of [its] successes, Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler tried to contextualize his company's rapid growth in an interview with Talking Points Memo. "It is probable Kickstarter will distribute more money this year than the NEA," he said, referring to the 47-year-old federally funded National Endowment for the Arts. Strickler sounded almost apologetic: "But maybe it shouldn't be that way. Maybe there's a reason for the state to strongly support the arts."
Such concerns have been brewing for a while now. In April 2011, a writer for the Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger worried that "Kickstarter might start pulling money away from nonprofits and charitable organizations, becoming a way for entertainers and creative-minded people to exploit their fans." In October 2011, an artist named Steve Lambert suggested in an interview published by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts that Kickstarter was a "right-wing paradigm" that could ultimately serve as a pretext for abolishing public arts funding completely.
Someone apparently thinks that accepting voluntary contributions from fans of your work in order to make more of it is "exploitation," but coercing money out of the public via taxation to accomplish the same thing is just dandy. As I've noted before, eliminating the NEA is not a high fiscal priority, but every time I give it more consideration, the case in its favor looks weaker.