Jason Alexander, best known as George Costanza from Seinfeld, questioned public funding for the arts when he attended a Shakespeare-themed event last week.
Clearly, we are in a financial crisis in this country so you want tospend money where it is going to make sense. Do people absolutely needthe arts to get by day-to-day? You can make that claim but they alsoreally need a lot of things before that,” he said. “I would love to seemore funding for the arts but I think the community to which it servesshould sponsor. There are tax payers in this country that never go tothe theater, that never read a book or poetry or go to a museum andtheir tax dollars are being spent on the arts…. I could make theargument either way. I’m glad I’m not the guy who has to figure it out.
Alexander makes a good point. While the arts are absolutely important and always have been, it’s pretty ridiculous to force people to pay for something they see no real value in. However, the actor brings up a larger and more important fiscal point.
Public funding for the arts is a ridiculous notion just like public funding for most things are. The ideal world would see us paying taxes towards exactly what the Constitution demands (national defense, roads, police, fire departments, etc.) and nothing else. By everyone saving all of that tax money, individuals can make adult decisions as to what they want to do with their money. People that want to give to art can give more, people that want to build a giant ball of cheese outside of their house can do so, etc.
The best thing to happen to the arts in a long while has probably been crowdfunding. It opens up choice for people and allows individuals the opportunity to support exactly the kind of art they want to support. That’s what freedom is all about. It’s about choice and people being able to make their own decisions. Besides, I think everyone can agree that any form of government being involved with the arts is a bad idea. That’s exactly where public funding for the arts can lead.