#NOTFORTHEARTS, or Why defunding the Arts of Government money is a good thing

Over the last few days I've received emails with the subject with the legend #savethearts. This in response to the news that the President Donald Trump is going to reduce funding for the National Endowment of the Arts in the USA to $0 - slashing the budgets of museums, PBS services and other arts related bodies.

As inevitable artists (which I Identify myself as) have been up in arms and that Patreon which I leverage to fianllay generate a small income has contributed to an campaign to raise awareness  of this crisis on a special website peopleforthearts.org. It lists various organisations that support the initiative along with patreon, Esty.com that sells small craft editions. Neither Patreon or the other partners receive funds from the NEA

Now I admit I am not American but I have heard of the NEA whilst voluteerning at an Art Gallery in New York and on various podcasts - but I do come a country where the government through the Arts Council of England  (and sister organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ) subsides the arts, through various museums and bodies in what they like to call partners. They no longer subsidise artists directly in the form of grants, individual art bodies must work in collaboration with creatives in project that benefit a defined group or community.

But hang since when do we creatives need the permission of government body, liberal or otherwise to make our 'art'. 

Millions of people around the world not just in US or UK everyday produce drawings, sculptures ,exhibitions, videos, writings etc and uploading them to websites and display their works on walls throughout the world and that will not stop with the defunding of the NEA. The only thing that will change is that the few organisations and super star artists and creators that employ army assistants to write funding application for tax payer funds will disappear or more likely hike ticket prices or lot to the commercial sector. The only thing the Arts Bodies do is justify the arts fundraising industry of line Managers and their salaries. Taking away the largesse intended to promote and involve those taxpayers who have paid for what they are being fed by liberated and educated programme managers.

Funding bodies such as NEA & ACE enforce and create a rigid bureaucracy and a closed clique of fundraisers that control and benefit from taxpayers money.    

I have dyslexia, I can't fill in an application form for funding nor do I have the skills to play the games of funders (i.e delayed payment of promised funds) or otherwise and nor do I need validation from a funding body one of the reasons I use Patreon, (and unsuccessfully Kickstarter in the past) whom I thought sought to broke the power of these bodies in the public sector and private power held by commercial owners (e.g publishers) and avoid the validations of someone working, in my case; The Arts Council England or ACE.

I had a brief and unpleasant experience working of the senior development (read: Fundraiser) manager at a English arts Centre - there was little time in questioning or developing different channels for funding either commercial or from direct ticket sales as the obligations of Arts Council requirements took precedence. The centre like others where constantly chasing shrinking government funding by buying expensive CRM software from commercial companies that promise it would give the arts centre the edge in funding requests (of course that's what they say to every cash strapped arts centre reducing the value of the data gathered).

It prevented what people in the arts need to do -- Innovate and re-orintate towards the key stake holders (e.g members of the local community) and de-couple from central government bodies defined goals. the Arts Council of England and NEA would say they are independent of partisan politics BUT they part of the establishment doling out funds for favoured institutions (Such I the case of the ACE; London based organisations) In the past they have been tasked with promoting various schemes sanctioned by the government such as a noble cause as creating more diversity; but they have failed spectacularly - paid arts administration positions remain shockingly white.

Sending dic tats from the top down structure of government funding is not the answer no matter how noble there missions are. Creatives of all types and abilities should be free to earn a living from there work - a mission that Patreon represents not a one that is dependent on taxpayers.

I barely agree with anything the Donald says but what President Trump administration is embarking should be welcomed as a piece of creative destruction and artists will always create no matter what the funding environment.