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Richard Rider

The case against taxpayer funding of the arts

At the SAN DIEGO U-T’s request, I wrote an op-ed, making the case against taxpayer subsidies for the arts.  It’s one of those “pro and con” op-ed face-offs on an issue.
It’s in response to the city of San Diego’s decision to cut its arts budget 31% — a decision I support. For most readers here, my commentary is available online without a subscription.
Comments from arts subsidy boosters will be coming fast and furious (mostly furious) in the paper, so don’t hesitate to put in your two cents worth as a commenter below the U-T article.  In addition, you can read (and comment about) the proponents’ vapid rationale for more arts funding at this link:
Here’s a barebones summary of the points I made:
  1. Prioritize government spending.  Arts funding is NOT a priority compared to other government functions.
  2. The cut in San Diego city arts funding is a pittance — barely 2 percent of the arts’ revenues.
  3. Sports stadium subsidies are wrong. So are arts subsidies.
  4. Taxpayer subsidies discourage donations.
  5. When government subsidizes art, government controls art.
  6. Much art today has liberal themes.  Taxpayers should not have to subsidize political propaganda.
  7. Government should not use force to subsidize art.
I conclude by challenging arts funding proponents to put the issue before the voters. Put an “arts tax” on the ballot, and let the voters decide. The arts boosters won’t, because — like me — they know that such a tax would NEVER pass.