Should the government subsidise artists?
Some people think that a strong artistic culture can make a country more civilized, and therefore governments should subsidize musicians, artists, actors and drama companies.
Do you agree or disagree with this opinion?
The question as to what makes a society ‘civilised’ is not an easy one to briefly or unanimously answer. Most people would agree that art – both through creation and appreciation – has a role in it, and consequently most countries subsidize art to some degree. However, whilst the arts should be granted money, it should not be given to specific individuals directly from government but instead passed through organisations and programmes.
It is often the case that when governments try to directly invest or manage art one of two things happens: the cultural aspect becomes politicised (leading to propaganda and/or criticism), or the projects simply do not represent what the public wants. An example of achieving both was The Millennium Dome in London, which is still seen as a white elephant and much derided. A wiser choice for leaders, and one most countries undertake, is to simply set aside a budget to an arts council whose business and expertise are to gauge and promote cultural understanding.
Another reason that governments should be one-step removed from the final allocation of money is that it allows for greater freedom and more voices in the nation’s artistic scene. An arts council is far more likely than a political body with vested interests to allow and support opposing, varied and dissenting artistic works, thus broadening the cultural landscape of a populous. Sadly it is often the case that countries less favourable to criticism restrict their artistic communities, causing the populous to receive a narrowed and biased artistic experience.
Thus, in conclusion, art does play a role in aiding a country’s ‘civility’ but whilst the money to support the arts comes from the government it should not be the role of politics to decide on the final distribution. Instead, objective independent bodies provide a far broader and intelligent funding platform and should be used. To be fair, most countries already work on such a scheme and shall presumably continue to do so.