Public Funding of the Arts

Key Questions:

Should there be public funding of the arts?   What are the arguments for and the arguments against public finding of the arts? Read this recent debate about public funding of the arts in the Economist.

What is the current level of public finding for the arts here in the United States in 2014?

What is being funded and how?

What are the implications for banning/ censoring art when there is public funding?

We have public funding of the arts here in the US at many levels– federal/state/local–what are some examples of each and do you find these appropriate/inappropriate –beneficial/not beneficial and why?

Do artist have the same freedom to create and express when their art is publically funded by taxpayer dollars?


We have many examples of banning and censorship of publicly funded works of art here in the US; look at some examples –what are your views on these cases:

On November 30, 2010 the National Portrait Gallery removed a work of video art by artist David Wojnarowicz which was part of the exhibit “Hide and Seek.” According to the Washington Post, “The piece was called ‘hate speech’ and “designed to insult and inflict injury and assault the sensibilities of Christians” by Catholic League president William Donohue, and a misuse of taxpayer money by a spokesman for Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).  Read Blake Gopnik’s response and watch a video of a debate about this exhibit and the work. Also, read the brief  press release by Martin Sullivan, the director of the Gallery.

Other examples:

The Holy Virgin Mary by Chris Ofili…

Piss Christ by Andres Serrano…

Yo Mama’s Last Supper by Renee Cox…

Once in a Millennium Moon by Meg Aligman & others…

Visit the Museum of Censored Art

Below is the video from a recent student group class presentation:

Also see:   Comments on Andres Serrano by Members of the United States Senate  Congressional Record, May 18, 1989.

And visit: Art on Trial