There’s been a lot of talk about arts funding lately. I want to think about it. What is it? What does it mean for people, for artists, for taxpayers? Let’s talk about that today.
Hi, my name is Carrie on Artist Strong, and we’re going to dig into arts funding.
Arts funding is one way artists can secure financial support for their art.
Today’s topic has a lot of little details so I’m actually going to look through my notes. When you see me looking down, it’s because I want to make sure I’m giving you all the information that you deserve.
It can cover, and I quote here, “cost of materials, professional development, travel and/or living expenses, depending on the source of funding.” You can apply for this kind of funding through grants or fellowships, and each organization that offers funding has their own systems, has their own rules and application processes that you have to go through in order to try to secure that funding.
One example of this is the National Endowment for the Arts. It’s a US government-based endowment fund. There are also state-based agencies and there are province-based agencies for funding and grants in places like Canada as well.
Let’s talk about this. Why fund the arts? I’ve got different arguments that I’m going to share with you today.
The first piece of this puzzle I want to make an argument for is that, before we invented language, we were making art. It’s one of the first acts of creativity for human beings, period.
To be human is to be a creator.
I can’t think of a more powerful reason that the arts are a valuable and important part of our lives and something that we should cultivate.
A second argument I have for you on arts funding is that a lot of the strides that we’ve had in disciplines like the sciences, for example, have happened because large institutional structures have offered support.
For example, Leonardo da Vinci was able to become who we now define as THE Renaissance Man because a large institutional and government structure, the church, gave him money to make the work he made, and thus also gave him funds to investigate some of his other ideas and create the many inventions that he did during his lifetime.
Another reason arts funding is important and valuable is that when we have varied sources of funding, we increase the diversity and voice that’s expressed in art across all of our cultures, across the world.
A wonderful example I have of some community-based art is the artist Candy Chang, which I will make sure she’s linked below this video. Her work is actively about community and people participating in her art. Her work would not exist without artist grants. Arts funding can help create opportunities for communities to come together like the work of Candy Chang.
My fourth reason for you today to consider arts funding as an important part of our society is that art actually increases our quality of life.
Having a sense of play and joy decreases our stress, helps our mental health, and thus actually impacts our physical health too. Dr. Stuart Brown conducted research around play, and he found out that when people did not play as children and did not have room or were not invited to participate in activities of play, which includes the arts, that they were more likely to create some kind of violent crime as an adult. He interviewed people in a jail system who had committed violent crimes and there was a clear relationship between their choices to make these violent acts and their lack of access to creative play as children.
When I conducted this research in February of 2017 for today’s video, I actually found evidence that suggested that the US government already spends more money on paper than it does on arts funding.
Let that sink in for a minute. I’ll also make sure I link that document that gave me this information below the video because I encourage you to do your own research. We will all have more factual-based information if we all try to do the due diligence we need to get accurate information.
One reason I share this last point is that we already don’t commit a lot of money to arts funding, and yet that little bit shares some kind of responsibility and boosts up some artists in our community to share their voice, to spread goodwill, and to engage communities like the work of Candy Chang that I’ve mentioned. That’s a valuable, valuable reason to invest in the arts, even if it’s less than the cost of paper for our government.
I did quite a bit of homework for today’s video, so I’ve linked all the articles that I’ve referenced below the video,, and I encourage you to read through them, learn more about arts funding in general, and decide if you as an artist would like to use arts funding as a means to create financial stability for you.
I’d like to especially note one article I really liked in Paste Magazine. The author’s name is Jason Rhode. I want to give him credit because a lot of today’s points came from reading his article, so thank you, Jason, for your cogent and interesting discussion of arts funding.
Be Creatively Courageous: I’d love to start a conversation below asking you have you ever made use of any kind of arts funding. Again, it doesn’t have to be government-based grants. It could be some kind of institution that supports the arts.
There are a all kinds of ways to receive grants for the arts. I’d love for you to share your own experience. What was it like? How has it helped you as a creative? Or what are questions that you have about accessing grants and how to apply for them? Let’s start that question below this video. Thanks guys for watching and listening. I’ll see you next week.