Private vs. Public Arts Funding
newmusicbox Fall 2007
you for this very interesting commentary, Yotam.
The ten to thirty ratio shows that the Villa Massimo has about the same
per capita ratio of fellows as the
Asking the administrators at private American arts institutions about public funding is sorting of like asking the Pope about Martin Luther. They have specialized careers administering private funds, a system that formulates their expertise, power, status, job security, and future employability. Public funding is thus a heterodoxy that often challenges their entire belief system. They have a vested interest in maintaining a funding system that is broken.
This is illustrated in your interview. There is no reason to assume governments will have more agendas than private funders. Ask your German colleagues if they can recount an example of the government interfering in the arts. They will tell you it doesn’t happen. European governments avoid falling into that pitfall like the plague. It would cause scandals that would end political careers. It is similar to the way the American government scrupulously avoids interfering in the policies of the Federal Reserve.
my wife and I are famous –or notorious—because our fight against sexism in
orchestras has faced political interference in
is notable that among the Western democracies, it is only in
also show that public funding in Europe is far more financially stable than
ultimate test is to compare the number of arts institutions that the two systems
make available to the public.
When I can get to it, I will send some numbers and analysis for funding in various European countries so that readers can see the extreme differences in availability of the arts created by public funding. The numbers also show that Europeans tend to hold arts funding stable even during economic downturns.
The American system is radical and isolated. We must continue to challenge the constant, demonizing propaganda we hear about public arts funding.
(This is such an important topic, that I am sorry I had to scribble this post. I hope it is clear enough.)