First annual Nancy Hanks lecture on arts and public policy, presented by the Friends of Nancy Hanks and the American Council for the Arts, at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, April 13, 1988.
The lecturer reviews the case for non-support of the arts through public funding. Here the case against the public role has rested on four propositions:
- public subsidy lacks constitutional authority;
- that public subsidy endangers the autonomy of the arts by making the artists dependent on government and thereby vulnerable to government control;
- that public subsidy represents a net transfer of income from the poor to the high-income and educated classes; and
- that public subsidy represents a paternalistic and elitist effort to dictate popular taste; if a cultural institution cannot please consumers and learn its way in a free market, then it has no economic justification, and if no economic justification, no social justification. I would suggest that the experience of the last quarter century has demonstrated these four propositions be misleading, overwrought or simply wrong. (p. 30).