kristen@kristenoneillart.com

An Open Letter on Why We Need the NEA

To Anyone Who Thinks We Should Cut the National Endowment for the Arts:

Civilization and culture are what happen after someones basic needs are met. They can go forth and be the best that humanity can be, rising above “where is my next meal coming from?”

When you look back on cultures throughout history what do you think of? You think of their way of life, perhaps their government, and always their art. Architecture, music, painting, sculpture, writings. We think of who they were, their culture. Not just where on the map they lived.

Our culture is what we make as humans that we pass to the next generation, it is the story of who we are as a people.

I am a capitalist. I believe that the best things in this life come when you have a government that lets you follow your passion. And lets you serve others to the best of your ability. That service is rewarded with money, which you then have the freedom to spend in the best way you see fit.

I believe in a limited government. It should get out of my way because I have things to do. I believe in nice people and in communities that help each other.
And, I’m okay if you believe I am wrong. And while all of that is true. While I am a capitalist, and lean heavily towards Libertarianism, I also believe in the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). It protects our culture. It promotes our civilization.

You want to make America great again? America is already great. You want to cut the National Endowment for the Arts? Then you want to place the value of your culture below it’s marketability.Make America Great NEA

There is a long dialogue through art history, human history, about what is important to people. The arts are a world language. And for decades, America has been at the forefront of that discussion.

To opt out of that conversation is shortsighted. You cut yourself off at the knees. To defund the NEA is to say “instead of thriving and being great, I am now going to come down to the level of ‘where is my next meal.’ ” We have a conversation going on in the arts right now that not everyone gets, or cares about. And that is okay, and necessary, because we are stretching our ideas. People walk into a Contemporary Museum, look around and say “I can do that”. Okay, great. Let’s have a conversation about that. Why did they do that? Why didn’t you? This dialogue is necessary.

It is as necessary as the French Impressionists who looked around and said, “I am sick of paintings of Napoleon on his horse in a battle. I am going to make art about people, and real life. I’m going to take my paintings outside.” Many of these artists created some of the most famous works of all time, and many of them were not financially supported by this work in their lifetime. There are plenty of times in history that you can see something that is beloved today, and it was not marketable at the time.
We have the National Endowment for the Arts to support this dialogue, these ideas, these people who are making their art and stretching our ideas. It is necessary.

Support the arts or you have no chance at greatness.

–  Kristen O’Neill

Learn more about the NEA at their website: www.arts.gov

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