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Now, what is an artist? Well, right now-and I'm sorry to say apparently according to some people in the federal government an artist is anyone who calls himself an artist or calls herself an artist. Unfortunately, whether work is art that has any durability, authenticity, or importance usually cannot be known for some time after it is created.
Is a man who cuts a knife into his lover's back and then passes napkins dipped in that man's blood an artist? I mean, he may call himself an artist, but is he an artist? Is his work uplifting? Should he be paid with money taken from the paycheck of a teacher working nights as a grocery checker? Should money from a fireman be taken to pay for that man's work? Does that man's work elevate or enlighten? To me, it doesn't. To me, the question answers itself.
On the other hand, hardly anyone recognizes Mozart's requiem as a gift from God. And very few would doubt that a good performance of Hamlet exposes the greatness of the human spirit and the utmost limits of its intelligence. And I think hardly anyone would be unmoved by the fourth movement of Beethoven's ninth symphony. These are sure things. These are absolutely sure bets on arts and artists.
My humble thought is that taxpayers' very limited funds, far too much of which is taken from them already, should go only for sure things in support of the arts to bring great, already well-recognized art and artists, preferably no longer living, we dare say, but ones who are well-recognized, to people who will need them and would not otherwise get them.
It seems to me it is just not as a basic matter ethical to take money from people who work terribly hard and give it to people who may just be con men calling themselves artists but with no claim to moral superiority either in their person or their work.
It is extremely ethical to bring the beauty of Mozart, Beethoven, and Shakespeare or many other great artists to middle America; to north Idaho, where I spend the summer; or the inner city America, where it seems to me the need for great art is extremely intense. That is, it seems to me, an ethical use of the NEA. And it seems to me that should be the uttermost use of the NEA.
Finally, I respectfully suggest that the chairperson of the NEA and all the responsible officials of the NEA are trustees for the taxpayers, not for the artists. That is, their ethical duty runs to the people putting up the money, the taxpayers. And if the NEA staff and responsible officials do not understand that their duty is to the taxpayers and not to defend the most outrageous and indefensible work by so-called artists, I think the need to have some explanations given to them.
rip= Thank you very much.
Mr. Riggs. Thank you, Professor Stein, for your very succinct and compelling testimony.
Our next witness is Judith Ann Butler. She is the Executive Director of Americans United to Save the Arts and Humanitics based here in Washington.
Judy, thank you for being here. You're recognized. You may proceed with your testimony. I think you may have to ask Mr. Baldwin for the microphone.
STATEMENT OF MS. JUDITH ANN BUTLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICANS UNITED TO SAVE THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Ms. Butler. Thank you. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to testify on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts. I have been a former Chief of Staff to three different Republican members of Congress. So many times I have sat on the other side of this table, but this is my first experience here. So thank you.
I come before you today as the Executive Director of Americans United to Save the Arts and Humanities. Americans United is a bipartisan organization formed about two years ago. And it is composed of over 100 business leaders from all over the country who have publicly stated their support for federal funding for the NEA and NEH.
We have sponsored newspaper ads, and we have written and called and visited many members of Congress and the officials at the White House as well.
A small sampling of our membership includes: Richard Franke, the Chairman of Americans United and the CEO Emeritus of the John Nuveen Company in Chicago; Paul Allaire, the CEO of Xerox; Ed Brennan, CEO of Sears and Roebuck; Donald Hall of Hallmark Cards; Donald Fisher of the Gap; Leonard Lauder with Estee Lauder; William Ruckelshaus, the CEO of Browning-Ferris; David Rockefeller, Michael Pulitzer of Pulitzer Publishing; Andrew Heiskell, the Chairman Emeritus of Time; and John Bryan of Sara Lee.
The message from these CEOs is clear and articulated so well by another one of our members, Philip Condit, the President of Boeing, in a letter to Senator Gorton, which states in part, “The arts have been a valuable component for creating a healthy business climate, and the NEA has been a critical catalyst in this growth.”
Our members have repeatedly told me that during their business careers, they came to value prospective job candidates with a solid education in the arts. They have seen that an arts education produces workers with such thinking skills as analysis, evaluation and critical judgment.
Exposure to the arts nourishes imagination and creativity. It develops teamwork and cross-disciplinary skills, flexible thinking, and an appreciation for diversity. Those who have learned not to let conventional ways of doing things dominate their approach to problem-solving can help companies be successful in our very competitive global economy.
The personal observations of our CEOs have been borne out by the College Board. Students who study the arts show an increase in their SAT scores by 65 points in their verbal and 45 points on their math tests. Simply put, a better educated student makes a better employee.
As you consider the fate of the NEA, please take a moment to match the statistics about the cost of the NEA with statistics about how many dollars the nonprofit arts industry actually can generate. The cost to each American is only 38 cents a year. This amounts to less than 1/100 of one percent of the federal budget. Annually, the nonprofit arts industry generates $36.8 billion in economic activity, supports 1.3 million jobs, produces $790 million in local government revelue and $1.2 billion in state revenue.
That money is plowed back into the community in the form of payroll, printing for playbills, tickets, and exhibition catalogs, set construction, and costume design, lighting, and meals at area restaurants. In many cities, construction of an arts facility is a major economic boost, serving to revitalize downtown areas. I call your attention to a February 18th newspaper article headlined, “Providence, Rhode Island, is Reviving, Using Arts as the Fuel."
For every dollar the NEA invests, there is a 20-fold return in jobs, services and contracts. We call that wise federal investing. Those impressive rates of return wouldn't happen without the NEA's involvement.
But let's get to the heart of today's question: Doesn't government funding displace private giving? On the contrary, there is a clear parallel between federal investment and the willingness of corporations, foundations, and individuals to support cultural activity. Grants from the NEA are required to be matched with private money, sometimes three or four to one.
Many corporate and foundation officials depend upon NEA's seal of approval as it considers funding applications. This public-private partnership with the NEA is enormously successful.
Unfortunately, the corporate and foundation world just is not able to carry the entire burden of the cost of cultural access. As federal and state budget cuts place new demands on the philanthropic sector, the arts face increasingly intense competition from other social service causes. At the same time, America has experienced a record number of corporate mergers, resulting in the downsizing and combining of philanthropic budgets, further limiting corporate giving to the arts.
Consider the challenge of affordable access. Unfortunately for those in rural areas, corporations and foundations give in their own neighborhoods. Five states received more than half the arts and humanities dollars awarded by foundations in 1992. Where does that leave people who happen to live in less populated areas? Support for the national endowments is needed to ensure that broad cultural access.
I am here to assure you that the business community, a community not often heard from in this debate, is a very committed part of the widespread support of the NEA. The CEOs that make up Americans United to Save the Arts and Humanities have made federal funding for the NEA and NEH a priority, right up there with their trade, taxes, and OSHA concerns.
I close by urging you to protect federal support for the NEA, to recognize the enormous good accomplished by relatively few, yet vital, federal dollars. It's a wise economic investment.
(The statement of Ms. Butler follows:)
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MS. JUDITH ANN BUTLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICANS UNITED TO SAVE THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES, WASHINGTON, D.C. - SEE APPENDIX M
Mr. Riggs. Thank you, Ms. Butler.
Dr. Alice Goldfarb Marquis is an author, historian, and professor at the University of California at San Diego in lovely La Jolla. Dr. Marquis, thank you for being here.
Ms. Marquis. Thank you for inviting me.
Mr. Riggs. You may proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DR. ALICE GOLDFARB MARQUIS, AUTHOR, LA JOLLA,
Dr. Marquis. I was born in Germany. And my family fled the Nazis, fortunately, and I was raised in New York City and moved to California in the mid 1950s.
For 20 years, I was co-publisher of newspapers in California, first a weekly in the Bay area and then a twice-a-week newspaper just south of San Diego. I wrote investigative articles for my newspapers. And, along the way, I finished college as an art major and then went on to an M.A. in art history. And in 1972, our newspapers were sold, and I was able to fulfill my heart's desire, which was to become a historian. And in 1978, I received a Ph.D. in history from the University of California at San Diego.
Since then, I have published five books of cultural history, including the most recent, which is “Art Lessons: Learning From the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding.” It has a wonderful Robert Mapplethorpe photograph on the front and also on the back.
In researching public funding for the arts, I looked not only at the NEA but also at state and local funding for the arts and discovered that local funding from counties and cities amounts to at least five times as much as the NEA has available. I interviewed more than 80 people, people in arts organizations, at local arts councils, people at the NEA, and every chairperson of the NEA since its founding, of those who were available.
As a scholar, I had no preconceptions about what I would find. I looked at evidence. But my research led me to conclude that the NEA was deeply flawed. Comparing the original mission with the current outcomes, I found that this is an agency that had never developed specific goals beyond “Let's help the arts. They're wonderful. And we should do something for them” and also, of course, had not developed a plan to reach the goals.
During my research, I came across a museum in my own town, Museum of Contemporary Art, that was the eighth largest recipient of funds in the United States for a museum. From personal experience and from the museum's own statements, fewer than 50 people a day go to this museum. They have exhibits that are difficult to understand, piles of rocks and things of that nature that may well be worthwhile, but not many visitors seem to think
I mentioned this to the person in charge of visual arts at the NEA. And he said he would look into it. Many months later, I asked him about it. I was again in Washington. And he shrugged and said, “Well, I looked into it, and there's nothing to it."
That museum is still getting very substantial funding from the NEA, has since enlarged its building, and has not attracted any more of an audience.
Much has been said today about the idea of an official body determining what is art. So I won't go into that any further.
American arts in the past, long before the NEA, were very much appreciated in the rest of the world. Our jazz artists went to Europe. And, actually, more was written about jazz by Europeans than there was by Americans in the '20s and '30s.
And we have this unique system for encouraging arts patrons, a system that we have had since 1913 and which has included corporations since the middle '30s, which is the tax deduction for charitable contribution.
Of the $10 billion that are given annually to the arts by private patrons, a lot has been said today about $1 billion as the amount of tax forgiven by the federal government. I think it's a lot more than that because the states and localities also forgive the taxes on it. My guess is it would be at least $2 billion or some $13 per American.
I'm a scholar, not a lobbyist. I'm not connected with any arts organization. I have never received a grant because, fortunately, the newspaper business was good to me, and I'm able to give myself a grant.
I question the need for the NEA as presently constituted. And I consider it detrimental. What I would support is to get the NEA out of deciding what is art, out of standing between artists and audiences. That relationship has existed for hundreds and hundreds of years. And audiences have always decided who the great
artists are ultimately, unfortunately not always in their lifetime.
The red light is on. I think I'll bring my remarks to a close. Thank you.
[The statement of Dr. Marquis follows:)
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DR. ALICE GOLDFARB MARQUIS, AUTHOR, LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX N
Mr. Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Marquis. We appreciate your being here.
Ms. Karen L. B. Evans is the Executive Director of the Arena Stage based right here in Washington, D.C. Ms. Evans, thank you for being here. You may proceed with your testimony.
Ms. Evans. Thank you. I'm actually not the Executive Director, a lovely mistake, but I am the Education Director at Arena Stage. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF MS. KAREN L. B. EVANS, EDUCATION DIRECTOR, ARENA
Ms. Evans. I am the Education Director at Arena Stage, which is one of the leading regional theaters in the country. I'm the first Education Director at Arena Stage. And I always take pride in telling the story of how my connection to Arena began.
My grandfather was an Alabama tenant farmer who couldn't read. And my mother and father came to Washington as part of the great migration of the 1940s. We're honest, working people.
My life could have taken many directions. However, in 1967, when I was 13 years old and a 7th grader, Arena Stage gave free tickets to the D.C. Public Schools for a production of “The Inspector General.” It was the first play I had ever seen. It was such a specifically magic moment in my life that I can still vividly remember the incredible rush of electricity that came when the lights went down because the possibilities for what was about to happen before me were simply limitless.
One free ticket for one black child 30 years ago was a very worthwhile investment for Arena Stage. It changed my life. The next summer I used my earnings from my first job at an elementary school 3 blocks away from my home to buy a $52 subscription to Arena Stage.
We must continue to make worthwhile investments in arts and arts education. Recent research in various arts programs document that the arts stimulate learning, improve overall academic performance, develop problemsolving skills, teach discipline, promote teamwork, and enhance self-esteem.
In terms of self-discipline, I'll talk in a little bit about a playwrighting program. We work with ordinary kids, and we ask them to write a very short play, a ten-page play. But the discipline it takes for a kid who is reading two or three years below grade level to do not one draft but two drafts of a play is just extraordinary.