Are the Arts Expendable? No… Well Yes… No!

When it comes to shooting photos, most photographers would argue that photography is just as much a science as it is an artform. While photography may be one of the more technical arts, society still considers what we do to be “art.” In the province of British Columbia, Canada, government grant funding is available to support community and arts groups, to aide in their development and growth for the betterment of society. In a bold and daring move, the government decided to cut all grant funding to the arts during this recession downturn, citing that the obvious (health care, education, etc…) are more important during these tough times. The fury of public outcry on the issue has caused the government to go back on their cuts, and restore grant funding to the arts.

Are the arts expendable? Apparently not, but we wanted to know your thoughts. As photographers (or even amatuer photographers), have you cut back on your photography related expenses? Are you shooting less and working more? Developing less images due to the cost? It’s true that there are probably more starving artists than starving scientists on the street, so maybe for now, the arts should be a casualty of the times we live in. But think about what your life would be like without art, photography, paintings, books, music, movies, and television. What if everything we did, we did only to generate revenue. Yes, we may only wind up with a handful of successful artists, but those few provide inspiration to countless others, and spawn new art in the process. Yes, the times are tough, and while even successful artists such as Annie Leibovitz is (somehow)$24 million in the hole, this week also brings the remastered release of The Beatles collection, set to become the biggest selling album of 2009… 50 years after their birth!

This notion of “non-success” for artists can only be blamed on the school systems that teach art without teaching the business of art. Thankfully, our government went back on their desicion to cut arts grants, but maybe they shouldn’t have. Maybe they should have taken that money and re-invested it into arts education so that when you learn photography, you also learn how to market and sell your photography. For now, the cycle continues and the arts dodge a bullet; the handouts still keep coming. The arts are certainly not expendable, so let’s not put them in the position where arts funding needs to be questioned. We obviously all need art in our lives in some form. To all our photography enthusiasts, keep shooting, keep pursuing your craft, and keep inspiring… grant funded or not.

1 Response

  1. I would point out that the necessity of the arts is a long-term vs. short-term thinking issue.

    In the immediacy of the moment, it may seem as though the arts are expendable. They are, after all, not essential for survival. You can live without paintings, music, or sculptures. You cannot live without food, shelter, clothing, medicine.

    In the long term, however, over the course of centuries, the arts become more and more important.

    Think about this: How do we know about ancient cultures – the Greeks and Romans, for example, or the ancient inhabitants of the Americas? What remains behind when these cultures fade into oblivion? On what do we base our knowledge, understanding, and judgement of these long-gone peoples? What is it that archaeologists dig up about these people?

    Largely their art: From the cave paintings of the Anasazi, to the mosaics of Pompeii; from the pottery shards of the ancient Celts, to the magnificent sculptures of classical Greece; the paintings of DaVinci, Rembrandt, Monet; the sculptures of Michelangelo, Donatello, Cellini; the music of Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart; the architecture of Brunelleschi, Bramante, Wright: The things that were created by artists, artisans, craftsmen – creative people. These are the things that endure over centuries, from which we derive our understanding of those who came before, and from which those who come after will derive their understanding of us.

    The arts tell us (and others) who we are.

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