Hello all. I am new to Orchid; however, I have been following this
thread with some interest. I must admit that I take offense to the
use of the word “handout”.
First, let me say that I work full-time as a software developer in
order to support my quest to become a talented jeweler. My degree
was in fine art, not computer science, and I spent over 10 years as
a professional stage designer for opera, dance, and network
television–I have never stopped “training” for a creative career.
I am also single with no tax deductions, which means that a
substantial portion of my salary goes to the IRS every year. As an
artist/craftsperson, I would prefer that a substantial portion of my
tax dollars go to programs that support individual artists and
craftspersons in their quest to develop their talent.
As it stands, the NEA has ceased all funding to individuals, and
it’s budget for institutional giving shrinks every year. This,
while our first lady is in Europe making speeches about how she is
going to start fundraising to support the arts and culture of other
countries. I, too, believe the Afghani buddhas should be saved;
however, in my opinion Laura Bush should be championing the artists
and craftspersons in her own country before taking up the cause of
Furthermore, I volunteer with an inner city Youth Arts Corp group,
which works with at-risk youth and just lost all of its funding.
Through this program, I worked with children that have to cope with
unbelievable violence and brutality on a daily basis in the form of
driveby shootings, gang and domestic violence, and neighborhood drug
rings. In the ghetto, there is no money for art supplies or
classes, and few of these children ever see the inside of a museum.
Yet, time and time again, their talent has never ceased to amaze me.
For many of these young artists, this program has had life-changing
implications. One young man was recently accepted to a prestigious
art school on full scholarship as a result of this program–when he
came to us, he had never attempted any sort of creativity. Now, two
years later, his paintings have been exhibited in museums and are so
powerful as to make you weep. He is just one of the millions of
examples of why there needs to be public funding for artists and
Frankly, as a tax payer and an artist/craftsperson, I know firsthand
how much commitment and dicipline is involved in developing one’s
talent. Many of us have devoted most of our lives in persuit of
excellance–personally, I began my training as soon as I learned to
hold a pencil, which was about 32 years ago. How many doctors and
lawyers can say that? I see nothing wrong with an artist or
craftsperson seeking public funding to support their work–senators
do it everyday and are still respected, so do other small business
persons! Why should an artist or craftsperson be any different? The
public’s perception of arts and fine crafts begins with us–the
artists. If we don’t value the talent, dicipline, and dedication in
our community, no one else will.
Andrea McLester Tampa, FL