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Supporting Art & Culture
by Alfred de Grazia


What Is It and Should It Be?

Is every product (artifact, expression) of art and culture related to politics, in the basic sense of the word `politics', meaning a point of view reflecting some side of a controversy? (840)

If not, what are the exceptions? (841)

Are the exceptions so valuable as art and culture that they alone should receive support? (842)

If not, then what `politicized culture' should be supported? (843) Indeed, should culture support be blind to political controversy, that is, should support decisions pay no attention to the controversial politics of an activity or proposal? (844)

Would not the denial of culture support to political expressions aggravate two of the great problems of democracy-political apathy and the degeneration of political culture? (845) Would not a culture policy that discriminates against politicized culture (acting as the merit system has in civil service) first attract by rich incentives, and then castrate politically, a substantial proportion of the ever-small fraction (2%) of the population that is politically aware and competent? (846)

If culture support is not blind to politics, would not all existing culture be off-limits to support, that is, are not all existing museums, schools of art and music, films, and historical writings (including the "Great Books") more or less supportive of some political point of view? (847)

If not, is it because they are deliberately representative, or shun the political, or are random collections or parts of random collections of culture products which have grown like Topsy? (848) And, if this is good, then should not future culture-support policy be based upon notions of lottery, randomness, a full range, and equal representation of whatever happens to be produced any promoted? (849) Might the adamant resistance to the idea that politics should play a part in culture support be an avoidance mechanism to save the trouble of deciding what is politically, as well as culturally, good? (850)

What is a policy?:

a. Is a policy to be defined as a set of preferences for a line of conduct, which is promoted by law? (851)

b. Is a policy to be defined as a set of group goals the achievement of which is planned? (852)

c. Is a policy to be defined as a statement of a group's goals? (853)

Is a policy necessarily moral? (854)

What might "moral" means: Whatever happens in law? (855) What is good for a group as a whole? (856) Whatever expresses a strong view with respect to what should be done and is done, etc.? (857)

Does the absence of a policy constitute a moral choice and does it have moral effects?


Which of the following general directives contained in the present law establishing the NEA and NEH would you accept as part of any reformulation of national culture-support policy? (859)

1. The support of cultural activity is needed for a better understanding of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future? (860)

2. The wisdom and vision that a democracy demands of its citizens can be fostered and supported through proper education? (861)

3. Cultural education should tend to make the citizens masters of their technology and not is servants? (862)

4. A climate encouraging freedom of thought, imagination, and inquiry should be created and sustained? (863)

5. Material conditions facilitating the release of creative talent should be created and sustained? (864)

6. The realm of ideas and of the spirit should be fostered in the interests of American world leadership? (865)

7. The Federal government is a necessary and appropriate instrument of culture support? (866)

8. The arts and culture should be broadly defined and should include the study and application of cultural production to the human environment? (867)

9. No Federal personnel should control any non-Federal organization in administering the law of culture support? (868)

10. Certain funds shall be given to the States when they organize counterpart cultural agencies, and when these agencies apply for funds and carry out their promised operation? (869)

11. General criteria of talent, exceptionality, authenticity, significance, creativity, etc., are to be used in giving support to the art projects of groups and persons? (870)

12. Groups must apply for support of their projects, productions, and workshops?


13. A wider distribution of creative work should be sought, and cultural appreciation is to be fostered? (872)

14. The National Councils must voice an advisory disapproval or approval of all recommendations involving financial assistance? (873)

15. The National Councils must be representative of deeply involved private citizens, culture creators, cultural producers, and of major forms of cultural activity? (874)

16. Individuals of exception talent may be given contracts or grants? (875)

17. A system of matching grants should be set up. with the U.S. Treasury as custodian, to encourage private and local donations to NEA and NEH projects? (876)

Would a search of the legislative history of the Federal and state laws disclose a number of opinions, issues, and principles that can be added to the discussion? (877) Should ordinances and practices also be surveyed? And the legal and administrative history of the more than 250 Federal and quasi-Federal programs and 46 cultural advisory groups that are estimated to participate in the fields of culture? (878)

Should there really be a national culture policy? (879) Or, is it a mistake to try to commit a nation to a line of conduct? (880)

When compared with all other areas of development, should the development of cultural creativity be given the highest level of social priority? (881)

Does the present national culture policy, whatever its language, operate as one or more of the following : a "shotgun effect," "a grabbag," "a power drive," "a feathering of bureaucratic nests," "an ideological imposition," "a customary subsidy," "a treasury raid," "a bailout," "a pork barrel," "mutual back-scratching," "social snobbery," and/or "a rational exercise for the public good"? (882)

What are the types and extent of culture support provided in the national culture policy of other countries? (883)

What have been some of the noteworthy effects of the national culture policies of other countries:

a. On creativity? (884)

b. On freedom? (885)

c. On education? (886)

d. On budgets? (887)

e. On international prestige? (888)

f. On other? (889)

Do you think it would be possible to draft a legislative bill that users words such as "is" and "are" when, and only when, a factual statement is made, and the word "ought", "should," or 'shall" when a certain line of conduct or state affairs is wished for or demanded? (890)

Do you know of any bill or law so worded? (891)

In such a bill, will it be more useful to define the words "culture," "art," "creative worker," "culture production," "culture producer," "culture consumer," operationally (i.e., as "having to do with the relevant activities of groups or persons involved in the culture forms listed in the Appendix"); (892) or should they be given some euphonious, general definition ? (893)

For the purposes of a Preamble, or Findings, what broad statements of fact would you wish to make about the present state of affairs in American culture? (894) What broad statements would you wish to make about cultural goals for the nation? (895)

Would you wish to affirm the policy's adherence to the Constitution and Bill of Rights or leave such matters open to the possible reactions to the policy or law (i.e. "wait for `em to holler")? (896)

For the definition of scope of the proposed policy would you prefer that the policy cover the whole of American culture or only some specified portion that is to be imperatively dealt with? (897)

Would you wish to make a statement of public principles (which you have elaborated) without full force or law, urging all cultural areas to govern themselves accordingly, including those that the legislation does not directly compel? (898)

Assuming that one section of the statement (report, policy, or law) deals with the reorganization and governance of the agencies of culture, would it be advisable to devote another section entirely to the regulation and coordination of culture-related, culture-involved, culture-supporting offices and agencies of the Federal government.

If there is enough to say, should additional separate sections deal with other levels of government (state and local), and with non-profit and commercial organizations and individuals? (899)

Should the policy provide for a division of the culture areas of concern, the issuance of directives to the chosen instruments of government for implementation in each area, and the authorization of funds and other resources for each area; or should it established the directives to be followed for all areas with funding appropriate to each directive; or should it follow a step down procedure, beginning with general directives for all areas with general management resources, then a division by area with an allotment of resources to each area, and finally the issuance of directives within areas accompanied by funding? (900)

Thus far you have dealt with questions regarding the general scope of culture policy, the categories of groups affected and involved, and the forms of culture affected; you have set forth the organization of the agency that is to be the chosen instrument for carrying out the national culture-support policy; you also have associated general directives with all of this domain, and applied special directives within each set of cultural forms, with related spending in both cases; would it now be useful to attach to each directive the means for execution or enforcement? (901)

Using your memory, the Appendix, and a review of the questions, would you jot down in the spaces below the numbers of some questions the answers to which would be important in the drafting of the policy?

Preamble (902)

Scope (910)

Culture-related groups excluded (911)

Culture-related groups affected (912)

Forms of culture excluded (913)

Forms of culture affected (914)

Organization of the Key agency (915)

General directives (916)

Special directives for each form affected (917)

Means of execution or enforcement of directives (918)

Suppose that Congress decided to undertake a positive program to support sizable retooling or tooling-up projects that would help large sections of cultural development, such as the following; which would you favor? (919)

a. Designating a new or existing school as the center for a greatly expanded program in every field of arts and culture listed in the Appendix, including auxiliary producers' areas of work, so that 300 areas at $1 million would cost $300 million annually? (920)

b. Providing leaves of absence and culture support for 100,000 elementary and high-school teachers annually for study and apprenticeship, which would cost about $2 billion? (921)

c. Setting up in new and old structures in some 20 regions a network of national culture centers which would support all media of cultural progress according to national policy, and would mobilize, educate, and help the culture activists of their individual region, for a total expenditure of perhaps $200 million? (922)

d. Set a goal of diversified culture center in every neighborhood of the nation: a 25,000 average population per center would mean about 10,000 centers, and at $200,000 per center, would cost $2 billion per annum? (923)

e. Voucher a million promising children a year to find and pay for their own cultural education, for a total of perhaps $1 billion? (924)

How would each be broken down and fitted into the framework of policy suggested by question 918? (925)

In budgeting culture support for all policies that promise to endure, can Congress commit the nation to a ten-year program of support at a given level of a "not-less-than" and "non-more-than"kind? What effects would this approach have? (926)

Should a national cultural policy specifically exclude support for cultural activity intended to:

a. support a foreign enemy? (927)

b. plead a highly unpopular cause? (928) religious sentiments? (929)

d. argue for a political party or faction? (930)

e. denounce the capitalist system? (931)

f. advocate a racist or sexist position? (932)

g. undermine respect for government and authority? (933)

h. destroy social harmony and peace of mind? (934)

From the standpoint of the economy and of political feasibility, can the culture be promoted better by adding spending and new positive programs alongside existing practices in the arts and literature, or by attacking (through regulation of quality, of the abuse of captive audiences, of programming, of the quantity of spending of public and private bodies, and of types of resources employed) the major ongoing sources of cultural pollution? In other words, can any large effective support be given to culture without, on the one hand, an enormous new expenditure and the inclusion into government of many additional thousands of personnel and assisted clients, or on the other hand, a direct conformation with and regulation of nonsupportive domination interests of the culture world? (935)

What cutbacks in an ideal national policy for culture do you foresee owing to:

a. Reluctance to spend more money on anything? (936)

b. Resistance in agencies, external affected groups, and Congress to the invention of new methods of organizing and supervising support in the cultural field? (937)

c. Future heavy demands of other areas of Federal spending? (938)

Which? (939)

d. Cumbersomeness of clearing innovative practices through the affected committees of Congress; executive offers of the presidency; quasi-independent commissions such as the FCC; regular agencies with which programs must be coordinated (Department of Labor re CETA, or U.S. Office of Education, HEW, for example)? (940)

e. Necessity to reform general bodies of laws, such as the law of tax-exempt groups, before culture reforms can be achieve? (941)

f. Certain recently popular customs (such as block grants to states and matching grants with independent groups?) (942)

g. Constitution barriers to certain proposals that might affect freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition, religion, due process of law, and equal protection of the laws? (943)

h. The powerful momentum of the ideology of economic growth and full employment that pervades politics, public opinion, the existing laws, and most economic interest? (944)

To protect a statement of policies form being swamped by protests that established across-the-board government beliefs, practices, regulations, and laws-far better established than the notion of culture-would have to be changed to accommodate the proposed culture policies, would it be prudent to frame a double report, the first asking for all that can be asked and done in the name of culture and the second for all that must be asked for in the name of culture but giving due regard to the consistency of the total system (on such matters as tax exemptions and tax law, urban rehabilitation, welfare law and formulas, the educational system, employment programs, and the handling of culture in hundreds of non-culture agencies)? (945)

Comparing these two sets of policy proposals, do you think that a complete and fully effective national culture-support policy can ever be adopted without general reformulation of a national policy for the whole scope of government? (946) Does this not mean that total social planning is needed? (947) Is there such a thing as legislation that liberates? (948) If so, would it be too difficult to estimate whether the proposed policies on the whole loosen constraint upon culture creators, culture coproducers, and culture audiences in America? (949) Would a retally of the liberating and constraining effects of the thousand answers reveal such a positive liberating effect? (950)

Might the proposed culture policy attempt to apply the zero-sum principle with regard to:

a. Its spending impact? (951)

b. Its scarce resources impact? (952)

c. Its liberating impact on affected personnel and public? (953)

"zero-sum principle" meaning that the policy, while canceling bad or less favored activities in favor of the preferred operations, will impose no new burdens within these three categories of effects, whether upon the governmental or the societal (real national accounts) budgets? Or, if this is possible, is it perhaps even possible to submit a better than zero-sum budget, that is, one that actually improves social and governmental benefit balances? (954)


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