Wichita arts funding: not all are happy

Not everyone is happy with the way the City of Wichita funds the arts and culture. (City looks to improve future arts funding, May 18, 2009 Wichita Eagle)

Mayor Carl Brewer is quoted as saying “Each year, somebody is not going to get some money, and then it is a personal issue.” I have to tell the mayor that when citizens pay taxes to support institutions that they never visit, they take it personally, too.

The problem that the city has is that the only way to satisfy all the groups that want funding is to meet their funding requests.

The best thing the city could do would be to cut off all these groups and institutions. Let them thrive — or not — on their own by providing exhibits, concerts, and events that people really want.

This would create a culture supported by the people, instead of one prescribed by a set of elitists.

Previous coverage of this issue:

Government Art in Wichita “‘Government art.’ Is this not a sterling example of an oxymoron? Must government weasel its way into every aspect of our lives?”

Economic Fallacy Supports Arts in Wichita “I read the study that these local writers relied on. The single greatest defect in this study is that it selectively ignores the secondary effects of government spending on the arts.”

Let Markets Fund Arts and Culture “… if the government would stop funding arts, there would be no need for government-mandated performance measures, and the outcomes that occur would be precisely what people really want.”

How to Decide Arts Funding “There is a common tendency to judge ‘highbrow’ culture — art museums, the symphony, opera, etc. — as somehow being more valued than other culture. But what people actually do indicates something different. When people spend their own money we find that not many go to the piano recital, the symphony, or the art museum. Instead, they attend pop, rock, or country music concerts, attend sporting events, go to movies, eat at restaurants, rent DVDs, and watch cable or satellite television. I’m not prepared to make a value judgment as to which activities are more desirable. In a free society dedicated to personal liberty, that’s a decision for each person to make individually.”

Arts Funding in Wichita Produces Controversy “… there is a very simple way to decide which arts and cultural organizations are worthy of receiving funds: simply stop government funding. Let the people freely decide, though the mechanism of markets rather than government decree, which organizations they prefer.”

2 Comments

  • I proposed at the vissioneering meetings
    to create a City sanctioned franchise for the river area. That would allow themed restaurants with themed shopping, using local cultural exhibits such as indian center, Cowtown Wichita Ice, boat house plus Gander Mountain, simular to Epcot in Florida. With fire works and a cast of characters parade each evening and using borrowed museum pieces for decor. That would combine Wichita’s restaurant passion with culture, create traffic downtown. In addition the market would decide viability.
    A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that … it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. — Milton Friedman

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