The arts aren't important


I found this article about how the current Canadian Prime Minister does not feel that funding for the arts, any arts -- including dance, isn't of any importance to the 'commoners'. What are peoples thoughts on the a government stating that the arts on important?


Well-Known Member
I don't know about any of the other "arts", but recently there have been all sorts of pushes to keep music in the schools. As part of the message, they talk about how studying music helps with subjects like math and such.

Now, mind you, I haven't personally seen the studies, but it sounds reasonable to me.

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
I believe that this is a huge probleme with societies, in general.. not only canada. It is the arts that teaches us live life; other things (i.e. academics) teach us how to handle the day to day neccesities of life. One reason why the world is going to hell on a bullet train is b/c we have no, or lessening, exposures to the arts. Why do we think they are called 'humanities'?


Well-Known Member
Honestly, the only things I ever really learned about "art" subjects in school were in French 3, when we studied the Impressionists, and I learned how to sketch and do ink-line drawings in a high-school art class. Every useful, practical thing I know about music and dance came from private instruction or university-level work. Now, I went to public school in the US, not Canada, but we had music and art and all it really did was get us out of our regular classroom.

Not to mention the article sounds like they're talking about things like funding dance or theater companies or 'artists' and really, given the state of the economy, is that the highest priority? How much income is generated from the funding? If you're having to reduce basic service and/or increase taxes, then yes, the arts really do need to be reviewed in terms of concrete value for the money. I don't know how badly off Canada is but down here with 10% real and 17% effective unemployment and states having problems providing basic services I can see where whinging about not getting a government grant for your independent film really WOULD rub voters the wrong way.

Something has to get cut. Taxpayers are stretched thin everywhere. Unless they can show that the grants result in jobs and income at a rate that makes it a profit for the government, it is hard to justify spending millions.


Well-Known Member
iPods and Crayons
MACs and PCs
Other Computers
Automobile Design
Fabric Design
Colored Pencils
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Gazillions of Websites
Graphic Designers
Web Masters
Interior Designers
Symphony Orchestras
Every dance studio in every little town...
The HUUUUUUGE recording industry
Motion Pictures
Billboard signs
Advertisements that get the crummy #$%!@D POLITICOS elected...

What do they have in common?

They need: ART

And they provide Livelihood for MILLIONS and MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.

I could list thousands more, but the point...?




Well-Known Member
What if you were the out of work artist, would it be important to you then? Imagine if you made your living as an artist or in the artistic world. What if you were a manager of an art gallery and had a mortgage? What if you worked as an art teacher or worked for a university in Theatre or Fine Arts? Would you feel the arts weren't important? Should your job be cut so that the university can offer an extra section of PolSci 101? Should the arts be cut out of the curriculum so that an administrator could get their bonus?

The costumes, shoes and jewelry we wear on the competition floor are all created by artists. Without art where would we be?


Active Member
I don’t know if I will qualify as an artist, but I gain may pay as a tango performer. Last summer business was slow and I teamed up with a juggler. We put up a magic show and went to the villages. We were not the greatest artists but we were the greatest in Teltow that summer Sunday. We were not payed by the state but by the people that hired us or the spectators we attracted.

At the house I live, a painter has installed an atelier in the basement. He lives off the pictures he sells. On the other side of the street a Jamaican guy runs a music bar. The listeners pay an entrance fee. The designer and the photographer that added to my web page were paid by me. I don’t know if we all are artists, or craftsman or maybe craftsmen that reach art on a good day, but neither of us is paid by the state ... and I think it’s good that way.

If art can’t support itself it will depend on the state. That means the state needs to evaluate and control art. You just can’t give money to anyone, who claims to be an artist or you will end up with plenty of artists in no time. In this case, evaluation art is nothing else than bureaucrats having to decide: What is art? What is it’s value? Is it desirable for the state to promote that specific kind of art?

The last time the state controlled “art” in Germany, we had to be bombed back to common sense. While I have much more trust in the judgement of our current government, I still don’t like them to define art. I prefer art to be defined by the artists and onlookers.
The costumes, shoes and jewelry we wear on the competition floor are all created by artists. Without art where would we be?
And we paid for them, didn't we? Sometimes quite a lot, as anyone who had a designer dress made, would know.

I think there are two funding issues when it comes to art - one is funding for art in educational system (i.e. art as part of school curriculum), and the other one is grants for individual artists (and the article seems to discuss the latter). I think the two should not be mixed together. I also think Lui makes a good point - government gets to control whatever it funds, and then, the more it funds art, the more it gets to decide what's art and what's not.


Active Member
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sparked a culture war in the federal election campaign with a claim that "ordinary people" don't care about arts funding.
Under fire for his government's $45 million in cuts to arts and culture funding, the Conservative leader yesterday said average Canadians have no sympathy for "rich" artists who gather at galas to whine about their grants.
"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at, you know, a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough, when they know those subsidies have actually gone up – I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people," Harper said in Saskatoon, where he was campaigning for the Oct. 14 election.

Seeing a Gala on TV with someone griping about their subsidy probably would rub people the wrong way. But what are Gala's usually for? To butter up the people with money to get them to invest in the Opera-Ballet-Art-whatever is on sale.

If you told them that the grant which helps subsidize their local orchestra/dance company/artist or whatever is about to disappear and so will the orchestra/dance company/artist or whatver, they might not be so gung go to get rid of it.

In our small town of 10,000 people we have a Performing Arts Center that was built through grants, donations by local people, and an endowment from a local wealthy couple. It is funded by box office receipts, donations to an arts foundation and, I am sure, government arts grants for specific shows or productions.

It puts on productions from two local acting companies and three local dance companies, all of whom train actors, dancers, stage hands, lighting personnel, etc. etc. While most of these people will not pursue the arts as a career a few will and have, with much success.

Because we have the PAC we are able to present artists from all over the world to our community. We are able to host an annual Jazz Festival that brings people from all over the state to our community. We are able to house a local symphony for a season of music, with guest artists from around the world.

Because our PAC receives some government funding in addition to box office receipts and member donations, we are able to pay visiting artists and expose our community to world class dance, music, art, opera (televised from New York), movies that don't have a wide enough appeal to play at the local theatres, etc. It makes our area more livable and welcoming to people from larger cities who are thinking of living/working/raising children here.

The Arts are definitely one place where throwing a few dollars into a small pond create ripples of effect far past the pond boundaries. They are dollars well spent.


Well-Known Member
And we paid for them, didn't we? Sometimes quite a lot, as anyone who had a designer dress made, would know.

I think there are two funding issues when it comes to art - one is funding for art in educational system (i.e. art as part of school curriculum), and the other one is grants for individual artists (and the article seems to discuss the latter). I think the two should not be mixed together. I also think Lui makes a good point - government gets to control whatever it funds, and then, the more it funds art, the more it gets to decide what's art and what's not.
This is true. Lui also makes an excellent point.

And if you are a painter or a sculptor or what those of us who are writers do, get a day job. Or four. If what you produce has value, someone will pay you for it, if not, the market is telling you that it doesn't have value and you should produce something else. If you expect the government to pay you for it, you have to expect them to have a say. Ditto private donors--they need to have an input in where their money goes. Also, private donors may decide they have other places to spend money or don't HAVE the money this year (like a lot of corporate donors this year).

For children's art eduction...remember that things like iPods, Macs (if you consider a Mac art ;) ) cars, etc, also need something else to be created--they need LOTS of science and math. If the decision is making kids do painting, or making kids learn pre-calc, which is more useful if you want to have highly skilled workers in high-tech industries? We have schools out here that can't even take their kids on field trips this year when they have a milage reimbursement from the place they visit! These schools are down to chosing between hiring an art teacher or hiring a math teacher--which is really better to cut?
What a load of rubbish. When I think of art and its impact, I think of Salgado the photographer who explored the impacts of globalization, Picasso's Guernica (a copy of which hanging in the UN was covered up when Bush and other US diplomats gave a speech in front of it pertaining to the Iraq war), or the artists who taught us how to move away from mimetic forms of the nature into a world of our own psyches. Art is not a mere fashion product, it can teach us to think differently, see different, approach things differently. Sure, sometimes avant-garde art is difficult to understand for but a few who speak the language, but then again are so many specialized and technical fields. We normally don't call the community of physicists elites, yet they possess technical knowledge the majority of us wouldn't understand, yet we're so eager to call these artists elitists? I guess I'm not all that surprised. As a capitalist society, we have a general biased towards innovation via technology, medicine, etc because these are things that have more immediate effects, making money, 'improving lives', but how do we valuate a work that can impact thousands--millions of humans on an abstract/psychological/ideological level? I guess less surprising is that it comes from a conservative politician for whom the values of a capitalist system rings even stronger.


Well-Known Member
Oh, please. Having time to indulge in "but how does the painting make you feel" is such Western post-modernist upper-class elitism. What does Guernica really teach us except people like to pontificate about wars (and in the case of the Spanish Civil War, one where BOTH sides were, generally speaking, representing immoral political philosophies?) No painting ever stopped a war or fed a hungry person (unless it was sold and the money used to buy food.) People look at it, make the apropriate 'educated' statements, and then go right on and do whatever they were going to do anyway.

In a perfect world, liberal arts education, with a broad base of studies, would start in kindergarten, and every student would not only be exposed to arts and literature but to the major sciences as well (frankly the area that's REALLY been abandoned is agricultural and food sciences, which is how we get idiots who think meat comes in plastic and plants grow at the supermarket). But if choices have to be made, then of course you have to chose in favor of the courses that are going to teach people how to become practical things--not just things that make a profit, things that contribute to the general welfare, too. If more people can now see a doctor--we need more doctors, not more performance artists. Focus on the practical. The fuzzy stuff can take care of itself.

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
as with most things...I am not sure this is an either/or proposition...the greatest societies see the necessity for both
Yes. There are so many arguments that can come out of the last 2 posts, but suffice it to say that you are correct, and that it is a shame that the US will never be one of those societies regardless of what it thinks it is.


Well-Known Member
Gotta say, I completely agree with DOI on this one.

Yes, I firmly believe that the arts are vitally important to society. Yes, I definitely feel they should be supported, both in though education curricula and through government sponsorship of the arts (grant funding, tax exempt status, and so forth).

However, in terms of a hierarchy of needs...I'd much rather see people fed, clothed, and housed--either directly or through other means of economic stimulation--than be educated about/exposed to the fine arts. Just my $0.02. Yes, I realize that there is an effect wrt those artists who are economically affected by such a decision; I don't have an argument against that.

Specifically wrt schools and children, however, I question the relative funding for the arts, compared with the funding for sports. IME, sports funding is rarely, if ever, cut while fine arts funding is the absolute first to go. THAT makes me livid.


Well-Known Member
ART CREATES JOBS (lots of them).
It powers innovation and invention.

It is simply staggering to me how prodigiously naive and profoundly narrow-minded it is to think that the influence of art is confined to a painting of a nude--and the appreciation thereof.

If we are to argue Science and Mathematics, then AT LEAST we must get a broader view of the argument.

Science and Mathematics are the SLAVES of ART.
They are MERELY the tools that implement such imagination.

But M, you say, let's be real! How does art help?
How is practical art pertinent to the economy?

Well then,
Guess what is the most important currency in Venture Capital?
Hint? It is NOT MONEY (that's linear thinking BTW).
It is NEW IDEAS (which, of course, power Innovation and Invention)
And guess what powers new ideas?
Yep, imagination.

And how do we train a collective group to imagine?
Yes...we can say it: Training in the ARTS

So, what does that have to do with JOBS? and Money?
Linear thinking espoused by science and mathematics imposes profound limitations.
(Our inability to look at things holistically stems from such linear thinking--and prodigiously promoted in science and mathematics because we don't either have, care, nor get exposed to the artistic component that allows us (nay, TRAINS us!) to examine things as a whole).

That is why linear thinking has a difficult time appreciating the fact that ART drives a significant part of modern economy.
That is why it is difficult to appreciate that every year the economy benefits IN THE TRILLIONS from ARTISTIC TRAINING in the form of NEW releases of dresses, shoes, neckties, new ways to package pies, food, records, software, movies, and a virtual sea of consumer goods.

You see, before that movie, dvd, iPod, Mac, necktie, blouse, shoes, etc... came into being, SOMEBODY had to imagine it.
Sure, somebody had to build it and engineer it, but those people wouldn't be employed if somebody didn't come up with the idea, would they?

Lastly...My pet peeve.
Look at what linear thinking's gotten us to: Next quarter profit strategies, instead of long-term gain.
Harvest the seas, the Amazon forest--and destroy the environment.
What's art got to do with solving that?
Imagination--the ability to work outside the framework of linear thinking and find better ways of doing things.

Ever wonder why the greatest civilizations produced great art?
It is because building greatness requires a congruence of great collective imagination.

So that question, about choosing between hiring an art teacher or hiring a math teacher?

I vote for the Art Teacher ANY TIME.



Site Moderator
Staff member
trying to thing of something to say that won't be staggeringly gushing....I simply bow to your wisdom and concur wholeheartedly

Dance Ads