Do you like art? Maybe a better question would be whether there are people who don’t like art – between visual arts, creative writing, dance, film, music, and all of the other art forms out there, there’s a lot to like! I love it (full disclosure: both my middle school and my high school focused on art), and I always stand behind the idea of the government giving more funding to arts programs, especially those in educational facilities.
Do you know who else liked art? William Ainsworth Parker, former Secretary for Fellowships with the ACLS. In 1954, the American government was debating H.R. 9111, which Parker described as “the most comprehensive attempt in recent years to increase the participation of the Federal Government in a program for the arts.” This description is from his supportive statement to the U.S. House of Representatives on June 8th, 1954. At a time when some people were arguing against arts funding because it might end up going to left-leaning anti-Americans, Parker argued just the opposite: “…it would also provide a positive answer to Communist propaganda against this nation.” What better way to let the world see the spirit of America than through its art?
A democracy which from the outside appears to be machined and spiritless will not win converts or friends. This nation, in all of its diversity, is a living ideal to less fortunate men and women in other countries. For our own sakes, we must turn a spirited face towards the peoples of the world.
Well said, Mr. Parker.
This statement shows that the ACLS has long held a place of importance in American society – enough importance that a representative of the organization was asked to speak in front of the House, and the organization itself was asked to be “one of the agencies assigned responsibility for submitting recommendations to the President concerning positions on the proposed National War Memorial Arts Commission, on the Commission of Fine Arts, and on the Smithsonian Art Commission.”
Of course we still see people arguing today about whether the government should play a role in arts funding, so this is a pertinent topic even now. What do you think? Would you have supported H.R. 9111?