WPA Redux Pt. Deux (or, when 1% is a hell of a lot)

A few weeks ago I pointed out Arlene Goldbard’s excellent summary of the issues surrounding a “new WPA” and specifically how the arts might be involved in or affected by such an undertaking. Arlene has now posted a follow-up piece which is equally worth a read.

Like the last piece it is thorough and informative, and for the most part I think she makes some great points. The one bone I have to pick is with her promotion of the “One Percent for Arts” idea that’s been making the rounds. I recognize that 1% doesn’t sound like a whole lot of anything. I also appreciate and respect the urge to think big. But when you consider that this is essentially asking Uncle Sam for $8.5 billion $5 billion I worry that it undermines our collective credibility. The number is so enormous - the equivalent of 50 30+ years of NEA funding - that it’s hard to take seriously and easy to dismiss. Of course I’d love to be proven wrong about this… If anything like this comes to pass I will gladly eat crow until the proverbial cows come home. But my own instincts are that we’ll have more success with more modest requests.

UPDATE: I originally listed $8.5B as the de facto ask of the one-percenters, but Arlene pointed out that it’s really more like $5B, since a significant portion of the stimulus money goes to tax cuts rather than spending.

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One Response to “WPA Redux Pt. Deux (or, when 1% is a hell of a lot)”

  1. Fractured Atlas Blog : Don’t be a Hater, Tom:

    [...] written in the past that I think some arts advocates have unrealistic expectations of the stimulus spending. But the arts are an important sector of the economy that provides social and economic value - both [...]