Things are really beginning to get bad for the arts these days. So bad, that even our enlightened and genteel northern neighbor, Canada, has undertaken an American-style slash-and-burn approach to spending on the arts in its current budget. According to the Globe and Mail online edition:
In short, yesterday’s budget, in the name of maintaining what Finance Minister Jim Flaherty called “strong fiscal management,” seemed to duck virtually every concern that the Canadian cultural community has been voicing in the past five years.
According to this story on the CBC’s website, arts groups are bitterly disappointed in the budget’s disregard for spending on arts and culture. “Cultural investment generates economic activity,” said one artist representative, “provides opportunities for performers and other creators and generates high-quality Canadian programming and films audiences want to watch… In tough times, that’s exactly the kind of investment government should be making, but they’ve failed to act.”
Meanwhile, not to be outdone by Canada’s new-found “Americanness” in regards to the arts, it appears our very own lame-duck president’s parting policy shot will be to eviscerate an arts community already deeply struggling to survive. According to a story called “National Endowment for the Arts budget cuts should be met with outrage, not complacency,” from the Louisville Courier-Journal, Bush is attempting an arts funding end-around in the last budget that he’ll ever sign off on:
Tucked away in the thousands of pages covering $3 trillion worth of proposed expenditures was a $16.3 million cut in support for the National Endowment for the Arts. That would reduce its operating budget from $144.7 million during fiscal 2008 to $128.4 million in 2009.
You heard right. Barely two months after signing off on a $20 million increase in the NEA’s budget — the largest in the endowment’s history — our nation’s chief executive quickly shifted into fiscal reverse. In budget-speak, this is called a “rescission.” In plain-speak, it’s an outrage.