Art is a hammer (Pound was an axe)

The Urban Institute (UI) was founded in 1968 as an independent nonpartisan center to "analyze policies, evaluate programs, and inform community development to improve social, civic, and economic well-being." They are committed to sharing their "research findings with policymakers, program administrators, business, academics, and the public online and through reports and scholarly books." One such report tackles the less articulated issue of the artist's value in American culture.
How are artists valued in society? What kind of demand is there for their work and social contributions? What kinds of material supports - employment and benefits, grants and awards, and space do artists need? Are artists' training programs preparing them for the environments they will encounter? What kinds of connections and networks enable artists to pursue their careers? And what kinds of information are necessary to assess this more comprehensive notion of support for artists?
The report found private and public funding for artists at best limited, and that the public view of artists as self-indulgent and frivolous "contributes to a devaluing of the artist as a citizen with the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else." Artists have always struggled to merely survive. They most times lack adequate health care coverage and housing. UI felt the 1990's cutting of federal funding put America's artist support environment in a state of crisis.
Throughout our history, artists in the U.S. have utilized their skills as a vehicle to illuminate the human condition, contribute to the vitality of their communities and to the broader aesthetic landscape, as well as to promote social change and democratic dialogue.
Investing in Creativity - A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists
by Maria-Rosario Jackson, Florence Kabwasa-Green, Daniel Swenson, Joaquin Herranz, Kadija Ferryman, Caron Atlas, Eric Wallner, Carole E. Rosenstein
(available in pdf, 830KB, from The Urban Institute)



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