Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Ahts on The Beach, Part 1

I was disconcerted when I learned that an amendment to the Senate version of the economic stimulus bill actually left parts of the economy out of the economic stimulus.
(Not as upset as the mothers in Iceland and students in Italy that Naomi Klein talks about. I'm an American and we don't get that kind of upset. We have Spring Training coming up and 24 on teevee.)
But I was upset.
I wasn't upset that there isn't any money in the stimulus bill for museums, theaters, or zoos. State and city budgets have already slashed any public support for non-profits and The Arts, and the creative industries I'm involved with have been couraging on with all of the insight and wisdom and can-do attitude of the good ol' American free market system.
Because they are businesses, you see.
I wasn't particularly upset that 73 United States Senators are dumb enough to discriminate against more than 4% of the economy. The United States Senate -- with its gleeful fondness for "faith-based initiatives" -- can't recognize an actual economic engine. Maybe because it is sometimes misidentified as "the intangible economy. " (I admit that I wasn't watching C-SPAN Friday afternoon so I didn't hear any of the ludicrous justifications put forth by the representative mouth-breathers.)
I am, however, still disgusted that the United States Constitution will now lump "museums, theaters, zoos, and art centers" together with "wastefulness" and "gambling establishments."
(I guess that those same 73 Senators don't recognize the amount of outright gambling on Wall Street.)
Now, here's where it gets complicated: Like any American, I'm not a fan of the current practices of lobbyists. Unless they benefit me, of course. A casual observer may not even know that The Arts even have a lobby, but there's The Arts Action Fund, "a 501(c)(4) nonprofit membership organization created by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization for advancing arts in America," which, according to the FAQs, works at "educating elected officials, candidates, the media, and citizens about why the arts not only enrich us—they also create better students, better schools, and better communities."
So there's that. But they've got a harder row to hoe than the energy or pharmaceutical PACs.
As I'll address in Part 2, even the facts presented below in this ad run by Americans for the Arts don't resonate with people who understand "The Arts" as sofa-size prints or "Ahts'n'Crafts" like seagulls painted on ashtrays. But, I reprint this here anyway:

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