Today the Obama administration announced reductions in the proposed budget of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) from $154-million to $146-million.
Writing in the New York Times, Patricia Cohen discusses this historical role in light of a new study on the NEA’s impact:
“Ever since the late 1980s, when the performance artist Karen Finley started playing around with yams and chocolate, the National Endowment for the Arts has come under fire from some conservative lawmakers. Back then the agency was castigated for giving grants to provocative artists like Ms. Finley, whom some critics called obscene.Now House Republicans charge that the endowment supports programming primarily attended by the rich, causing “a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier citizens.” A new study to be released on Wednesday challenges that assertion, however, and concludes that federally supported arts programs attract people across the income spectrum; the wealthy, yes, but also many below the poverty line.
“The study, by the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was specifically intended to test lawmakers’ propositions about arts funding. Last year the House Budget Committee, led by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, issued a proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which eliminated all funding for the arts endowment as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Continue reading “Oops, NEA budget to be cut”
The day after this week’s elections, the National Rifle Association got exactly what it wanted: a front-page New York Times
story about Colorado results that supposedly send “lawmakers across the country a warning about the political risks of voting for tougher gun laws.”
In These Time writes that the article, and many others like it, “came after the gun lobby mounted successful recall campaigns against two state legislators who, in the wake of mass shootings, voted for universal background checks, limits on the capacity of bullet magazines and restrictions on domestic abusers owning firearms.
“Despite the recalls being anomalously low-turnout affairs, the national media helped the gun lobby deliver a frightening message to politicians: Vote for modest gun control and face political death.
“For all that reductionism, though, there are more nuanced lessons from these elections. First and foremost, with statewide polls showing that most Coloradans support modest gun control and opposed the recall campaigns, the elections prove that in low-turnout situations, a relatively small group of pro-gun voters can still win the day.
“Additionally, with gun extremists issuing threats of violence against pro-gun-control legislators, Colorado Democrats stopped explaining why their gun legislation was so necessary. In light of that, the election results are a reminder that when politicians don’t stay on the message offensive, they quickly find themselves on the electoral defensive. This is especially the case when, as a Pew survey documented, voters who oppose gun control tend to be more motivated single-issue voters than those who support gun control. That intensity gap, of course, is the most significant story of the Colorado elections because it reveals how different people ascribe different meanings to the gun debate. Continue reading “Guns and freedom”
Experts agree that arts and culture are an important part of the economy – but the precise relationship is complicated.
As governments and organizations increasingly have to justify spending, the big question remains: does investment in the arts stimulate growth, or are the arts the product of economic development? These questions were posed in today’s edition of The Guardian in a story that continues below:
“Few people think of the economic impact of visiting a gallery or buying a ticket to the theatre. But arts and culture in the US generated $135.2 billion (£87 billion) and supported 4.1 million jobs in 2010, according to the latest economic snapshot from the non-profit advocacy group, Americans for the Arts. It would seem that the case for continued arts funding is clear cut – enjoying the arts boosts the economy. But experts say the link between arts investment and economic output is tenuous. Continue reading “Art and the economy explained”
Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) today announced research findings showing the usefulness of self-help books for the treatment of mental health conditions like depression.
“Patients offered books, plus sessions guiding them in how to use them, had lower levels of depression a year later than those offered usual GP care,” reports the BBC.
“The effect was seen in addition to the benefits of other treatments such as antidepressants, Scottish researchers report in the journal Plos One. Such an approach may help the NHS tackle demand for therapy, they said.
“More than 200 patients who had been diagnosed with depression by their GP took part in the study, half of whom were also on antidepressant drugs. Some were provided with a self-help guide dealing with different aspects of depression, such as being assertive or overcoming sleep problems.Patients also had three sessions with an adviser who helped them get the most out of the books and plan what changes to make. After four months those who had been prescribed the self-help books had significantly lower levels of depression than those who received usual GP care. Continue reading “Self-help books seem to work for depression”
The new game “Practice Range” from the National Rifle Association is already generating a lot of controversy – as the current moral panic over gun continues to escalate nationwide.
Rather than getting caught up in emotionalism, let’s remember that any links between simulated violence and actual violence have proven tenuous at best, and that nations
around the world with plenty of violent entertainment do not share America’s tragic history, which itself becomes exaggerated by self-serving alarmists.
Everyday violence is a big problem and its heavily gendered character rarely gets addressed directly. And guns kill people like nothing else. But the NRA game is little more than a poorly timed and crassly advanced public relations effort. It’s not going to hurt anyone. As CBS reports about the game. Continue reading “On “Practice Range””