The Playgoer: Party like it's 1979

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Party like it's 1979

Isaac presents some interesting stats on the NEA, which become quite eye-popping once you adjust for inflation, as he does. They reveal that the hacking of its budget started years before the "culture wars" of the late 80s. Try, the very beginning of the Reagan administration. "1979 was the NEA's highest budget in terms of 2008 dollars," says he, "at a whopping $470.56 million dollars."

Today it's around $125 million. Yup, about 1/4th the size.

And as Isaac points out in a no-duh way: "Is art cheaper to make than it was in 1979? No. Is the dollar worth more than it was in 1979? No."

Go see his proposals and tell him what you think.


Anonymous said...

Exporting culture was probably the most effective, non-violent way to fight the Cold War. I'll bet that the decline in government support for the arts was more connected to the ending of the CW than it was to any internal US issue. We just didn't need to show up the Russians any longer.

That said, the Rethug revolution vs. the NEA-4 just added more fuel and ended a time that we'll never go back to. Lucky for us, there a other great ways to build both public and private support, so I hope we're not proposing to re-fight battles we already lost once. The odds of another cold war much are better.

Playgoer said...

Really interesting Cold War theory, Ralph. Hadn't thought of that, but there's really a lot to that. "Cultural Exchange" was not only State Department but even CIA policy for a while there...