President Trump released his budget proposal on Thursday and, before you consume a lot of news coverage on it, I invite you to do this.
JessCurtisGravity is a San Francisco-based “arts” organization that, according to its website, “…creates, produces and presents engaging body-based art that physically explores and addresses issues and ideas of substance and relevance to anyone with a body.”
Look at those photos on the JessCurtisGravity website and you’ll see that the “engaging body-based art” consists in large measure of naked people intertwined with one another. Silly to most observers. Pornography to some.
I call your attention to JessCurtisGravity only because the organization is one of many “arts” organizations that has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts – the NEA. The NEA is one of the line items in the federal budget that Donald Trump wants to outright eliminate.
The Left is, of course, shrieking. Cutting federal funding for the arts is unthinkable, they cry. We need the NEA so that inner-city children might better channel their otherwise sociopathic impulses. Cutting federal funding for the arts will cause art museums and symphony orchestras across the country to fold. Besides, they say, the NEA consumes such a tiny percentage of the federal budget, why not just leave it alone?
Here’s where I insert a disclaimer. My wife and I are arts patrons. We donate money outright as patrons to several arts organizations – we are season ticket subscribers to several more. Seldom does more than two weeks go by that we haven’t attended a theater, ballet or symphony performance. We believe in the power of theater, music and art to lift up those that it touches. We believe that arts education is important for children.
Still, if there was ever a need for the NEA, that time has passed – and not just because the NEA takes money withheld from the paychecks of working Americans and uses it to fund high-brow pornography.
It’s because art is in the eye of the beholder. I pass no judgment on JessCurtisGravity’s naked intertwined “performers.” I just don’t want to pay for them.
If JessCurtisGravity believes that what they do has artistic merit, let them do what Mozart, Michelangelo, Raphael and Tchaikovsky did – go find patrons of similar belief with the capacity and willingness to put up the necessary money. That’s largely how art in all of its forms has always been funded.
Yet here’s the clincher for cutting the NEA from the federal budget. It will demonstrate that Congress is at last willing to actually stop spending money on things for which there is not one shred of either duty or justification under the Constitution.
In a nation burdened with $20 trillion in debt, a crumbling infrastructure and a depleted military, the time for that kind of discernment and fiscal rectitude is long past due.