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The Plague of American Art

In 1965, the American art scene changed forever. When the National Endowment for the Arts came into being, there was high hopes for a more egalitarian art world that would spread wide-ranging ideas between the coasts, but, in the art world post-NEA founding, dark clouds were forming. The NEA is no longer a sustainable avenue of preserving and producing American art..

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The arts have and will survive the test of time without the National Endowment for the Arts. According to Katherine Boyle, “Individuals have always been the backbone of arts funding” (Boyle). Before 1965, the upper echelons always supported the arts. For example, the Vanderbilts supported many “starving” artists like Picasso. However, the common man was not able to participate in funding the arts because many influential art organizations and individuals desired only large donations. The NEA was intended to alleviate this problem by eliminating the undue influence of the wealthy on the arts, but now this is not a problem. New organizations like Kickstart have allowed more people to fund the arts. “Kickstart funded roughly $323.6 million of art-related projects” (Boyle). This money, pooled from individuals from all walks of life, is nearly double the the yearly budget for the NEA. The NEA was never the answer for getting the middle and lower classes involved. It was crowd-funding. Now wealthy and poor donors alike are donating about $13 billion dollars to the arts each year (Boyle). That number is only growing. With donations across the hierarchal spectrum being received, the National Endowment for the Art’s purpose is no longer valid. The wealthy are no longer inordinately influencing art.

Funding multibillion dollar i…

… $50,000 to help urge people to write to their elected officials and ask for more government money (Keane). A conflict of interest is raised in cases like these. If Obama-supported artists are given government grants, then those will often be matched by private donors’ grants (Keane). These private grants will be taken away from those who need them more such as struggling film producers or community art programs. The NEA’s defeated its purpose before it began because of its proclivity towards corruption.

The National Endowment for Arts does not help art; it actually hinders it some cases. It miserably fails in its mission because it does not nurture good and exceptional art as promised, but only decent art according to the obscenity mandate. If a government institution fails to comply to its own charter, major reform or even abolishment should be in order.

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