Friday, May 06, 2005

In Defense of the NEA

Yesterday I attended a wonderful violin concerto at the Strathmore, Morzart Symphony No. 5 if you are curious. Strathmore is a newly built concert hall by Montgomery County, Maryland. It average two classical concerts per week featuring either the National Philharmonic or the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. It costs the County approximately 48 million dollars. Most promising is the large number of young people, 12 to 16 ages range. I am not a fan of Douglas Duncan, -naturally he is a liberal and I am an conservative - but this is one of the thing he deserves full credit for. It has improved the county as a cosmopolitan center and enhance it as a place of culture.
Which get me to the next point about the National Endowoment for the Arts, mainly that too many conservatives are (wrongly) criticizing it. Imagines the US without the NEA. There would be no National Gallery of Arts where young curious student can learned and appreciated the Ginevra de' Benci by Leonardo Da Vinci. There would be no concert hall where a young mind can be spirited by Morzart Requiem - perhap the most haunting and beautiful requiem. Without the government funding various cultural programs, Western Civilization would have became extincted. And all we have left is the vulgarity produced by Hollywood.
This is not an issue of market function. We cannot depend on market alone to sustain our cultural heritage. Funding for the arts is an educational function, which is a common good that only the government can provide. If conservatives have no problem in advocating school voucher, they should not have any problem supporting the NEA. The main issue that irks conservatives about the NEA is its occasional funding for dubious arts project. Projects that either are rubbish in quality or offensive in taste. But the most neglect fact is NEA grants seldom goes to those trashy projects and they consist of a miniscule amount of funding. Our government have funded far more offensive projects at a much higher cost. Most of the NEA funding goes to museums like the National Gallery of Arts and concert hall such as the Kennedy Center. I doubt that anyone would find "Madonna and Child" offensive or "Dvorak, Symphony No. 9."
And just like the Stratmore Center which enhanced the cultural value of Montgomery County, the NEA and its various project enhance cultural value of the US. Still not convinced. Then check out this site.


Blogger VietPundit said...

It's interesting: here is liberal Jonathan Chait's case for getting rid of the NEA. I think I'm neutral on this, since I haven't thought about it much.

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