Yo-Yo Ma, Artists Seek More Government Handouts

Yo-Yo Ma, Artists Seek More Government Handouts

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma knows the federal government is trying mightily to balance its books. The famed musician just doesn’t want that to involve any cuts to existing arts funding.

Ma appeared on Capitol Hill today alongside former Guns ‘N Roses drummer Matt Sorum to ask Congress to increase funding for the arts.

The group Americans for the Arts is pushing for funding to be restored to $155 million for both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Last year both agencies received about $146 million and lost about $7 million of that due to Congress’ automatic budget cuts.

House Republican budget leaders have called for eliminating the two agencies altogether.

Arts funding is a precarious matter. It’s hardly a life or death issue like health coverage or defense spending, but the power of the arts can transform the lives of both young and old. The question remains, who should pay for it? And should our taxpayer dollars fund art that is potentially offensive to our beliefs?

Call me a pie in the sky conservative, but I’d love to see the biggest stars in the entertainment galaxy step in to help the arts community–and Joe and Jane Sixpack. We live in a time when Johnny Depp has made north of $350 million for the popular Pirates franchise and Madonna is now a billionaire thanks to her song stylings and savvy marketing gyrations.

Those two artists alone could fill the gap without suffering so much as a hiccup to their lavish lifestyles.

Frankly, wouldn’t it be nice for the left-of-center artists who constantly say they crave higher taxes to voluntarily lead a movement helping the next generation of singers, actors and playwrights?

After all, they are the exceptions to the artistic rule, Americans who get to ply their trade and get paid a ridiculously high sum along the way. As the Celebrity in Chief once famously said, as some point you’ve made enough money. Why not literally pay it forward?

Millionaire artists could generate copious good will with their donations, something which could indirectly lead to bigger box office grosses, ratings or record sales. They would truly help young artists and set an example for giving that could spread to other charitable endeavors.

Seems a whole lot more fair than trekking to Washington with an outstretched hand.