September 07, 2004

Subsidized Art

A Europhilic friend loves to tell me that in France, the Government buys theatre, concert and opera tickets -- so everybody can go get some culture, while we have to go to Wal*Mart.

I say "so you want to have Tom DeLay and John Ashcroft picking your entertainment for you?" Seriously, what are these people thinking? The more art is paid for by gub'mint, the more the artists have to pander to bureaucrats -- that doesn't bother anybody?

It bugs Dr. Eamonn Butler, at Adam Smith Institute Blog. He looks at the effect on art museums:

The American bank robber, Willie Sutton, was asked why he persisted in robbing banks. "That's where the money is," he replied.

On Radio 4's You & Yours programme this Thursday, I'm going to suggest that Britain's museums suck up to politicians for the same reason - because that's where the money is. Indeed, members of the public can only be a nuisance to them, since the government has banned entry fees.

And so the museums come to reflect the values of their paymasters - elites who love big projects and big projects, preferably in London.

We have too many marble palaces built on the sewer of public money - money that is forced out of us under pain of imprisonment. Isn't it a much more wholesome idea to make museums depend on access charges and voluntary donations? They they would have to engage with their real customers, and be businesslike about it.

I'm so glad I'm livin' in the USA

Posted by jk at September 7, 2004 04:46 PM

Yep, tour Italy and see how many works of art you can find without a Christian theme. The Catholic Church had the money to commission art and that is what they wanted.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 8, 2004 09:08 AM

That is a very good analogy, but it breaks down when you consider how the money is leveraged from the public. The church has always done it under fear of eternal damnation. The government has always done it under "pain of imprisonment."

An enlightened man can see the damnation threat for what it is - unearned guilt - and choose to ignore it, but no man may defy the tax collector his due lest he come to your door with handcuffs at gunpoint.

Posted by: johngalt at September 8, 2004 09:53 AM
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