ON-Lion Letter

Currently the way to succeed as an arts organization is not to create a product that attracts new audiences, but to create a product that pleases those who dole out the free cash.
This sentence, the subtitle to a recent article by David Marcus published in The Federalist, highlights the inherent problems of government funding for the arts. Government funding stifles a free market for creativity and invites the potential for both intentional, and indirect, censorship. What is more--and contrary to common assumptions--government funding subsidizes wealthier individuals more likely to participate in “arts activities”, while it stifles the creation of art that will appeal to a wide-range of citizens.   
The author argues that government funding is actually leading to a decline in appreciation and participation in the visual and performance arts in America. According to National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) numbers the percent of American adults who attended a “benchmark” arts activity in the past 12 months has consistently trended downward over the past 20 years. In 1992, 41 percent of American adults attended an “arts activity”; by 2012 that number was 33 percent. 
Art of all types, visual and performance, is best supported and enjoyed by private funding, driven by the individual creative choices of the artists, and of patrons who choose to support the artistic endeavors that please them. The data suggest that when government plays the role of gatekeeper, anointing chosen arts with federal money, it unduly influences the work, hampering creativity and dampening interest in the benefits and enjoyment of art. We believe that an end to federal funding for the arts will add creative energy and vitality to the arts in America through the subtraction of this unhealthy government influence.  
The Bradley Foundation is a proud supporter of the arts in Milwaukee. 


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