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Should the arts be publicly funded?


The arts is a medium of communication in which individuals can express themselves freely to the world. Due to this, the arts are essential for the well-being and sustainability of society, and can present itself in various forms. This article will evaluate on why public funding of the arts is necessary despite other perhaps more urgent priorities, and why the government should fund the arts to preserve the nation’s cultural heritage.

Arts vs Other Priorities

Public funding of the arts is necessary despite other more urgent priorities, as the arts allow individuals to communicate thoughts which are not able to be put in words. This is necessary for society as people always need the sense of release and joy which is found in the arts, which in turn benefit the nation’s overall well-being. A main concern from those who are against public funding of the arts is that the government has greater priorities in its spending, including healthcare and renewable resources. For instance, if the government allocates its funds from investing in hospital beds to an art museum, many would argue that this is a severe misallocation of resources as the state is not focusing on areas where the nation needs immediate aid. However, it is important to note that the argument is not that the arts need immediate public funding, but that funding the arts is necessary for society. Of course, in a healthcare crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the government should be prioritising the nation’s healthcare services, but this does not mean that the government should neglect the arts completely during these times. The ideal government should not only focus on the short-term needs of the nation, but also plan for the future in order for the nation to grow both economically and socially. Therefore, subsidising the arts depending on the nation’s circumstances is essential for the reasons previously discussed.

Arts vs National Heritage

Art very much represents a country’s cultural identity and how it is remembered in history. It also contributes to the growing global development of human creativity as well as an overarching sense of community as individuals appreciate the arts of other cultures as well. However, there are many who believe that modern art does not reflect any sense of national identity. For example, artists who create digital paintings in the form of non-fungible tokens arguably create nothing more than temporary internet jokes which are inappropriate to say the least. Representing a nation with these artforms can arguably only humiliate a country rather than allow other cultures to appreciate them. Additionally, digital art is created by those who already have the luxury to invest in electronic art equipment, thus not necessarily needing public funding for their arts. However, there are other forms of art which reflect a nation’s cultural heritage, but not enough public funding. For example, there is a rising genre of fusion music between traditional instruments and modern music production, as seen by the film score for ‘Black Panther’, which combined traditional African instruments with modern hip-hop elements. To allow traditional musicians to express this kind of tradition on the global stage, it is crucial for their governments to provide monetary support for the artists to be more involved with less-diverse but more well-known environments such as the Hollywood film industry. This elevation of lesser-known artists to the global stage can also economically benefit the nation in the long run as the artists return with profits, a share of which will be paid to the government in tax, or even attract more tourists to the nation as well. Therefore, although some artforms can be seen as unrepresentative of a nation, it is important for governments to not neglect those which define the nation’s heritage at its core.


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