Cliff Stearns in an open letter to NEA Acting Chair Patrice Walker Powell, “The fundamental question is why is the federal government supporting artists that the taxpayers have refused to support in the open marketplace?” The man is opposed to arts funding and he uses the rest of the letter to play on people’s hate and fear by letting them know that the NEA spent .002% ($100,000) of the $50,000,000 they received in stimulus money on organizations that have produced or presented art that he (and the other signers of the letter and presumably his constituents) finds objectionable. If only all of our federal spending was looked at with that kind of scrutiny.
I find his voting record not just “abhorrent,” “offensive” and “antithetical to our values and culture,” but unconscionable. But I digress. Ummm…billions of dollars have been spent to bail out car companies whose products I can only assume taxpayers have refused to support in the open market place. I guess Mr. Stearns doesn’t find that so objectionable that he needs to write an open letter. I won’t get into what people need more. To be against federal arts funding is to be against art; is to not acknowledge the millions of arts workers in this country; is to be against the billions of dollars that the arts puts back into our economy every year. To turn art over to the marketplace is to silence the voices of those who cannot compete in the marketplace. If we turn art over to the marketplace it is only for people who can afford it (and believe me that will be very few if we don’t have any public support). We owe art to everybody, even those who can’t afford it. We owe it to the taxpayers who do want to hear voices speak not only the language of their own soul, but the language of other souls so that we may better understand each other.