Obligation to the Arts?

Do private citizens of today’s cities have an obligation to support civic projects and public works of art?

Does the government have an obligation to support the arts?

If so, what policies should be put in place? If not, why not?

1 Answer

  • 6 years ago
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    "Obligation" is a tricky word when attached to anything so immaterial and subjective as the Arts...and even trickier if a "free society" when assigned to individuals.

    In the American system, for example, a citizen's obligations are pretty much reserved to obedience to the law and the payment of taxes...In effect, our "obligation" is to be active and educated in legislative and fiscal policy, to ensure that the laws and spending of tax dollars are consistent with our beliefs.

    The term "government" to me is tricky as well....because to me, too few people understand the distinction between the "Government" and the "State"..

    The government is the bureaucratic machine that is basically put in place to serve and enforce the will of the State.. and in America, the People ARE the "State." So once again, the government has the obligation to serve the People...not to determine for them where the importance of the Arts should lay in their lives.

    So in terms of policy, I believe that aesthetic expression (and more importantly aesthetic analysis) should be stressed as part of both public education and public health.... in other words, I believe that schools should stress arts as much as they do physical and health education.

    The danger, of course, is having art programs hi-jacked by those promoting ideology in much the same way that other subjects like literature, history and sociology.

    I believe that art programs in primary education should focus on technique and providing the tools of expression ... not the value of what is being expressed..

    In other words, music students should be taught how to read the music and play the notes...and not have teachers choose which songs they learn based on the whims of fashion or "social correctness"..

    ..Teach children how to mix colors and present perspective rather than choosing for them what images are politically acceptable..

    ...Teach children how to interpret the subtleties of literary expression.. rather than "protecting" them from Faulkner and Hemingway because they were "chauvinistic old white men."

    In short, private citizens should have no "obligation" specific to the Arts...and the government should only support the Arts as a whole and leave the valuation to the individuals an communities.

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