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Writing Sample - Art and Culture

Public Policy and the Arts

            “The arts are the basis for a civilized nation. They’re the launching pad for creativity, for turning out architects, chefs, lawyers, teachers, detectives. Funding arts in not about art’s sake-it’s about enriching the community” (Ramde).

            There are many subjective question’s about art: does it have a purpose, should it be taught, is one talented by teaching or is it a natural quality, can one make a life by working with the arts. All of these questions can be disc used and never reach a conclusion. However one is able to ask: what does art bring to a community? Art is a community: it helps feed money going into the area; it helps to enrich the life of every student, who later will become the adults in the community; and it will show the heritage of that area and will be ultimately what preserves the area. The government is the basis of the community and is crucial for the survival of the arts. They provide the funding to keep art programs alive and in operation. Art is the foundation stones for the community, to keep this community intact and to preserve the arts the government needs to step in and offer support it.

            America is in a financial decline. Their main source of income for many American’s was factory and labor industries; however, these jobs are being moved overseas or have been terminated. Many cities in America are in search of creating new job markets and brining in revenue. A study shows that 32% of American travelers, which is close to 30 million citizens, will extend a trip because of cultural, arts, heritage or historic activity or event” (Ramde). A huge factor a city can push is the arts factor. Take for instance New York City. Many will mark a trip to the city with seeing a Broadway Show. Time Square, the most tourist driven section of the city is in the center of the theatre district. One can also look at Cleveland, were tourism isn’t as high as New York. Cleveland, Ohio can offer several art’s based events for tourists: a person could visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Museum of Art, or the Blossom Music Center. One could also enjoy a performance at one of the three schools: Oberlin, Cleveland Institute of Art, and Cleveland Institute of Music (Ivey). Many smaller cities are marketing the arts to bring in tourism. 

The arts anchor and revitalize cities, promote tourism and grow the economy. The arts in a community act like a magnet to attract businesses, large and small. The define community identity and expand community pride. They encourage dialogue between government and business groups, civil organizations and schools, artists and audiences. And where the arts flourish community understanding flourishes as well. No other city service impacts as many areas as a thriving arts sector (Ivey).

Most of these cities that take part in the tourism have suffered some sort of decline. The arts and tourism will hopefully boost a cities economy. However many arts organizations are dependent on the funding from the government to start, a financial base. Public funding will help with the construction of the cost of buildings. It can also help with the creation of an organization. There is a theatre in Cleveland that had an initial investment of $40 million from public, and private, funds. Today that theatre brings in $50 million a year and is able to be self sufficient with sales. This would not have been possible without the aid of private funds (Ivey).  Government funding of the arts also lets a town make long term plans for the arts and tourism. With public funding there is a future.

            Studies have shown that art can affect a student’s performance in class and in social situations. It has been proven that children who receive exposure to classes in creative writing drama, painting, and music do better in math and science (Ivey). Art is vital to a students learning, but it needs public funding. Without government funding there would be no way to teach the students what it takes to put on a play, to read music, how to apply paint onto a canvas, or to use a pottery wheel. Case after case is shown how arts education has affected a child’s life. Take for instance Edret Brinston a high school sports star that failed a literacy test twice and was unable to gain his high school diploma. He got involved a production of Romeo and Juliet and worked intensely with learning and understanding his lines. With a sense of confidence and with a better understanding of the written word he was able to pass his literacy test and graduate (“How”). Without government funding that production would have not had the money to be produced. Without that government funding Edret wouldn’t have gotten the catalyst to pass the test and graduate. This one of thousands of cases where the arts have affected a student’s life for the better.

            Heilbrun and Gray have stated, “If we fail to fund arts education in public schools, we risk allowing the arts to remain essentially an activity of the well-to-do, serving to reinforce boundaries of class and status instead of helping to transcend them” (Heilbrun 402).

It is very important society hold on to relics of the past and preserve those treasures. It is the pieces of art that have given information about past societies. Take for instance the cave drawings of the prehistoric era: those basic drawing are what historians have used to judge how the lived, worked, and what rules of society the lived by. Or the Egyptians, their history comes from the pieces of art and wall paintings left in the pyramids or tombs. The only way funding is available is through public funding. These relics are mostly held by public, non-profit museums and other organizations.

            Throsby states that there are four main reasons public funding will help insure that art pieces with historical significance will survive: “public ownership and operation of the heritage institutions, facilities and sites; financial support for maintenance, operation and restoration of heritage […], regulation limiting or constraining private action in dealing with cultural heritage; and education and provision of information I the hope that better conservation decisions will be made” (Throsby 89). Public funding will help keep history alive. The government giving money to museums that house these historical pieces, will offer security that they will be looked after, that they will be seen by the public, and that they will have a place to be stored and not destroyed.

            Ancient civilizations are studied through their art and are housed and protected in museums. Cites are able to bring in money due to art and. Studies have shown arts helps the students have a diverse education, get better test scores, and have better moral judgment. All of these events couldn’t be made possible without public funding. I personally can’t describe how much the arts have impacted my life. From the time I was young I have always been involved with theatre, from high school to community productions. All of those have been publically funded. I taught a theatre program this summer that ran off of $10,000 dollars of government funding. This allowed close to 20 students, at least half of which could not afford the program to discover what it meant to put on a production of Shakespeare. Government is necessary to keep arts alive globally. Arts help build up a nation and preserve it.

            Ivey speaks about the arts to the NAE and states that:

Creativity is possibly our greatest national resource, and because it is so valuable to our nation it must be encouraged and preserved. In benefits every area of our lives personal, professional and national […] Shouldn’t we as the mightiest nation on earth, invest in our living cultural heritage and the national creativity of our people? Of course, we should and I believe our nation’s commitment to its own creativity is the best and most lasting legacy [one] could offer future generations (Ivey).



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"How Face-to-Face Art Changes Lives." American Theatre 16 (1999): 58. ProQuest. Juniata

College Library, Huntingdon. 22 Oct. 2007.


Ivey, Bill. “The Benefits of the Arts.” Vital Speeches of the Day 65 (1 Jan. 1999): 181-5.

ProQuest. Juniata College Library, Huntingdon. 22 Oct. 2007.


Ramde, Dinesh. “Wisconsin Civic Leaders, Artists say Funding Arts Benefits Economy.” Knight

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Throsby, David. Economics and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001.