Uncle Sam Wants You!

Over the past few months, there’s been lots of talk about a “new WPA” in which the federal government would hire artists to perform public service. Last week the first serious legislation emerged out of Congress that makes an attempt at this idea. From The New Service:

The Music National Service Initiative, which is in its start-up phase, got the backing of legislators today through an amendment to the national service legislation that passed on the floor of the House.

Rep. Crowley was able to include following language, stipulating an artist and musician corps, in Rep. George Miller’s Manager’s Amendment to the GIVE Act, H.R. 1388.

“(Q) A musician and artist corps program that trains and deploys skilled musicians and artists to promote greater community unity through the use of music and arts education and engagement through work in low income communities, education, healthcare and therapeutic settings, and other work in the public domain with citizens of all ages.”

Interesting stuff. I admit I’ve been a little skeptical of this approach, for reasons both philosophical and practical. But it’s surely significant that, after the near disaster with the notorious Coburn Amendment, we’ve reached a place where members of Congress can explicitly acknowledge that artists produce something of value to society. Baby steps, baby steps…


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4 Responses to “Uncle Sam Wants You!”

  1. steve housewright:

    I’m concerned about MSNi and dubious about the “Give Act.”. The government corrupts. It’s made up of people and institutions that have proven again and again to exploit people’s best instentions and actions. To “give” to communities through their ties I think is asking for heartbreak.

    Music has managed to be handed down for centuries without government involvement and perhaps should stay that way.

  2. One NYC Stagehand:

    I don’t really have an opinion about the “Give Act” but what Steve was saying is pretty historically inaccurate. From the Medicis to the royal courts of Europe to the WPA to the NEA, artists have regularly been supported by government and the elites.Government doesn’t kill the arts, people kill the arts.
    That being said, I have an affinity for Jeffersonian rational anarchy or populism as well as arguments that have the intellectual rigor to get their facts straight first.

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  4. RITA:

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