Arts and the recession: I want the truth, not rose-colored glasses!

There are 2 kinds of news articles when it comes to discussing arts and the recession. The first is the reality, the hard truth that the arts are severely suffering economically. A good example is this TIME article from last summer. The second type of article is the one that puts a positive spin on the effect of the recession on the arts. Newsweek published such an article back in December. Quite frankly, I am thoroughly sick of reading articles that choose the second perspective.

A poor artist is not necessarily a happy artist

Now I know there is truth in the sentiment that art will continue on whether or not there is money to be had. There will always be artists who must create and will find a way to do so, thank the Lord. BUT, this does not mean that the arts are immune to the recession. And it certainly does not mean that the recession is good for the arts. I have read plenty of articles that talk about economic challenges positively leading to more creativity and renewed passion for art-making. The Newsweek article above goes as far as promoting the growth of amateur artists and smearing the idea of paid professionals as stifling and a thing of the past. Apparently some people don’t see anything wrong with denying money to the arts or having artists work separate jobs and create for free. These people make me angry, very angry.

What should be the focus of the news is the cold hard truth. The arts is always one of the sectors that gets hit the hardest in times of economic decline. As the TIME article so accurately outlines, the arts plummet in all 3 areas of funding when money is tight: ticket sales or sales of works, corporate and private donations, and government spending. The reality of today is that many artists are suffering greatly with no relief in sight. What should be continuously noted in articles are the dance companies and other arts organizations across the country that are collapsing every week. People need to hear about the art and culture that is being lost with each passing day.

Certainly I don’t expect people to rally around the arts in this economy and throw money at them before things like food and rent. I don’t expect much change to come from just hearing about the hard reality facing the arts. But at the very least, I wish that reporters would stop trying to put a positive spin on having no money. Cutting back on art is NEVER a rosy situation.

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