Regular readers of my blog are aware that my daughter is a professional ballet dancer. It’s no secret that I’ve felt superstar athletes could do a good turn for their peers working in less financially advantageous careers, dancers being one such group. No NFL, NBA, or baseball player will deny that dancers are highly underrated athletes. Not too long ago, professional football players were taking ballet classes to supplement their training. Think “light on their feet,” and you’ll get the picture.
When 9-11 occurred, I silently gave thanks that my daughter had chosen to pursue a career in the arts. While not viewed as financially essential to the community at large, I think the arts represent the better side of human nature and, therefore, are necessary for civilization. Remove the arts, and we are no better than the beasts we confine in cages, or hunt down for our personal aggrandizement. Remove the arts, and we would be no better than the terrorists who killed Americans in blind obedience to their baser instincts, disguised as martyrs to their religious beliefs.
While those who do not partake of the arts might feel they reap no benefits from federal funding to the National Endowment of the Arts, I say think of it as an investment in our humanity. It’s a small price to pay that we remain more God-like, than that we return to crawling in the dirt like the serpent.
Dance, even ballet, is no longer a past time for the wealthy. As current reality TV shows demonstrate, the young, and not-so-young, are flocking to the dance floor and the stages. Joyfully, enthusiastically, they are overflowing with positive, creative juices as they strut their stuff. Many entertain the hope to one day dance professionally. I can tell you from my daughter’s experience, there is not the money to sustain such a workforce, unlike that which sustains billion dollar sports clubs, and 3 foreign wars.
One beautiful dancer, like my daughter, reminds me to be compassionionate, to be hopeful, to be humble, to be grateful, to be thoughtful, to be forgiving. While these are not winning entries in a mega-millions powerball lottery, these intangible gestures of good will are of immeasurable value in who we are as children of God.
So I disagree with Sarah Palin who decries the National Endowment for the Arts as “frivolous.” It’s more likely that the “bridge to nowhere” was superfluous, as admitted by Alaskans themselves.
Sarah Palin trashes National Endowment for the Arts
Television commentator and half-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin trashed the National Endowment for the Arts recently, describing the agency as “frivolous” in a Thursday interview on a Fox News talk show.
“NPR, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, all those kind of frivolous things that government shouldn’t be in the business of funding with tax dollars — those should all be on the chopping block as we talk about the $14-trillion debt that we’re going to hand to our kids and our grandkids,” Palin told right-wing host Sean Hannity. “Yes, those are the type of things that for more than one reason need to be cut.”
Palin did not elaborate on what the other reasons might be for chopping the NEA budget. But the government of every major civilization in world history has also prominently funded the arts.
The comment about the NEA came during a discussion of the ailing U.S. economy. Palin is certainly conversant with frivolous activity, but her grasp of the economy is weak.
Debt reduction would barely be affected by penciling out the small federal arts agency, which currently operates on a $161-million annual budget. Palin’s support of a federal subsidy for the notorious “bridge to nowhere” in her state became a campaign issue when she ran for vice president on the 2008 Republican ticket. That local project carried a price tag of $223 million.
“Reality is we have 15 million Americans who are out of work,” said Palin. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry supports 5.7 million jobs and generates $166.2 billion in annual economic activity, according to Americans for the Arts. The NEA is one linchpin in that sizable economy.
In the interview Palin made no statement advocating similar budget cuts to her home state as she recommended for the NEA, which is also in the cross hairs of Washington’s Republican leadership. Palin’s Alaska gets $1.84 in federal spending for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes.