The Arts and the Economy

February 7, 2009
Dear Senator Kingston,
I came across this quote of yours this morning, “I just think putting people to work is more important than putting more art on the wall of some New York City gallery frequented by the elite art community.” [U.S. Rep Jack] Kingston said. “Call me a sucker for the working man.” – Congressional Quarterly report

I believe you were calling the funds slated for the National Endowment of the Arts wasteful spending. I respectfully wish to tell you my story and why I disagree with you.
I am a WORKING artist. Emphasis on the “working.” My income helps to support our family. If you think that the arts don’t contribute to putting people to work think again. I spend money to buy supplies and to ship my work to museums and galleries around the country. I spend money on marketing, at printers and for various web services.
The museums and galleries that my work shows and sells at bring in both locals and tourists alike, very few of whom fall into the category of an “elite New York art community.” They are ordinary WORKING people who like to look at something uplifting when they walk into their home. They spend money at museums, and restaurants and other local business nearby.
I WORK (on a volunteer basis – because grants to support that effort have been drastically cut) in the local schools and community. I introduce children, through art, to the idea that mathematics, language, shapes, and colors are all integrated and can be fun and creative. Something our underpaid teachers no longer have the freedom to do as they spend all their time teaching to a test. I truly believe that unless we teach our children to think creatively our nation will suffer greatly. Where will the innovation come from – who will invent the technologies that will move our economy forward?
Perhaps if I put on a Bankers suit and tie and received billion dollar bonuses you’d be happier to throw money at me and call me a “working” man.
Sincerely yours,
-Lyric Kinard
If you believe the arts contribute to your local economy, please tell your local newspapers so. Please write letters to your Senators. It is easy to find how to contact them by putting your zip into the box at
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  • Reply
    April 12, 2009 at 11:54 am

    hmm. We as taxpayers spend millions subsidizing sports franchises, convention centers that host trade shows like boat or bride shows. Why is that spending more important to society than the arts?

  • Reply
    March 4, 2009 at 4:43 am

    LOVE this post, Lyric!

    Alex and I had a veerrry long debate/argument over some of the items (what he called “the fluff”) included in the stimulus package, to include $ for the arts. When you don’t have an artistic bone in your body (like Alex and me), it can be hard to empathize with the great need for arts spending. HOWEVER, when you appreciate art and understand its history, and sometimes even the theory behind it, it becomes easier to find that empathy.

    I wonder if your post would help me sway Alex to my/your side? I’ll have to find out.

  • Reply
    February 8, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Inspiring Lyric. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Susan Brubaker Knapp
    February 7, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    You tell ’em, sister!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2009 at 5:40 am

    Thank you for joining me in taking action on this today. Unfortunately, the senate passed an amendment that prevented funding for any “aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center” in this economic stimulus. I guess banking jobs are more important than community improvement or those working in the cultural industries. It will take more of us to convince legislatures that there is value in creativity.

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