On January 20, 2009, a petition calling on the new Obama administration to create a stimulus package for the arts was launched by the Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) a Washington D.C. think tank in alliance with the Split this Rock Poetry Festival.

This arts “stimulus” package piggy backs on the $800 billion stimulus package that Congress has been debating.  Many have compared this national stimulus package to FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) which employed artisans of all sorts during the Great Depression.  Like FDR, Obama aims to create three million jobs. The Institute for Policy Studies and Split This Rock are asking that 1% of the stimulus package be used in support of the arts.

One might think that because I am an artist, an art collector, an arts advocate and a member of West Virginia’s Arts Advocacy Board of Directors and the founder of an unknown arts organization called Transcendental Arts Council that I would be in support of this 1% for the arts petition. . . If the money was real hard cash I might be!  But since it isn’t real money I am not in support of this action instigated by these two well known arts organzations.

First of all IN MY OPINION the world DOES NOT need more entertainment (like Melissa Tuckey and John Feffer’s article “From Arts to Arms” state, nor do we REALLY need more “ART for ARTs sake”  IN MY OPINION we need the arts to stimulate the economy, but by taking a different approach – going door to door with a new vision for their community, our nation and the world.

I do commend these two individuals and the organizations that they represent HOWEVER, I think that they, like most holding polital office are still thinking inside the box and are simply rerunning an old show.  NOW IS THE TIME FOR CHANGE which I think we all agree on in the art world BUT some of us need to review the definition of change.  NO MORE SLEEPING UNDER THE SAME COVERS AS GOVERNMENT.  No more hand outs!  The Arts do not require a handout from the same organizational system that supresses the arts.

Message to Melissa Tuckey and John Feffer: “Let’s think outside the box here for a moment on the same campaign idea of “From Arms to Arts”, but instead of going to Obama for a piece of the Emperior’s New Clothes, I’m sorry, I meant the Emperior’s New Stimulus Package, mobilize artists to go door to door in neighborhoods giving citizens a choice of free items from an art mobile, a beautiful print of a Pop art GUN by a famous artist, a water gun from a great selection or Hugs by some famous actors (who earn way to much money and can afford to serve society with a few hundred hugs) or not so famous actors who could promote themselves at the same time.  While “campaigning” their Arms to Arts message give the individual at the door a quick reality check on the status of the economy and government and then paint them a picture for the future of artists working on behalf of society.  This is just an idea from a West Virginia artist, and concerned citizen of our great country.

Below is a wonderfully written piece that helps to share the reasons behind the 1% for the arts proposal/petition.  I agree with nearly all of this and have written most of these thoughts down myself over the years when contemplating art and the power of the arts and creativity.  But again I must state that I do not agree with the proposal and I ask that all Campaign for Liberty members consider writing your thoughts on this matter back to Foreign Policy In Focus and if you can circulate this and your (probably better articulated) thoughts to President Obama and Congress please do so.  I hope you’ll agree, even if you are not an artist, that the arts should continue to fight to question everything just as most of the well known artists from history have done.

“To stimulate the economy, we need to rely on some of the most stimulating minds in our country: the artists. With their vision, they can help us envision a different future. But in this global economy, we can’t do it alone. We must think and act across borders. By devoting 1% of the stimulus package to the arts – and incorporating a strong global dimension to the funding – we can revive the U.S. economy and the U.S. global reputation. Ham-fisted propaganda and slick advertising aren’t going to do the trick. We need authentic voices, provocative works that reflect the true diversity of this country, and powerful visions that can build bridges and tear down walls. Join our campaign by signing our petition. Let’s not just stimulate the economy. Let’s stimulate our imagination.”

I will not signed my name to the document and I encourage all arts professionals and their supporters to take the same position.  THEREFORE I WILL NOT TELL YOU WHERE THE PETITION IS LOCATED.

Confession:  I recently (without much thought) signed another petition to Obama to establish a Secretary of the Arts position.  The night after doing so I realized I made a horrible mistake.  I OFFICIALLY request that my name be stricken from this petition!  I also mentioned in the petition, in the comments section, that i wanted to apply for the position or be able to set standards for the position since I have been thinking about this stuff most of my life.  My realization was that if a position as Secretary of the Arts were established within the government walls it would also mean that the government would be establishing an entire cabinet.  Meaning more tax draining employees!  NO NO NO!!!  NOT IN MY NAME!!!  We can find another way.


~ by David Heatwole on February 4, 2009.

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