Should governments increase funding for the Arts? Ask those who have studied the Arts if they would vote for more government funding for the arts and you will most likely get an affirmative reply.
After all, to respond otherwise would betray what they devoted years of their lives to. “Yes, I agree” would more or less be the answer.
I agree. However, the proposition “Governments should increase funding for the arts” implies urgency and suggests generalization. This should be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Think of Paris and the vision of all things artful pops into your head. The art scene there, along with other equally blessed places in the world, is so vibrant it hardly needs increased monetary assistance.
The Philippine art scene, on the other hand, is a different case. (I am more versed in this country’s scene, but still have much to learn).
Granted, we have institutions devoted to the arts like the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Museum and a number of other museums housing the magnificent visual work our great artists produced.
Yet something tells me there should be a lot more, and it points to things beyond money.
Commitment, we should know, is important. Like the value of the arts itself, the commitment to promoting art is difficult to quantify. Yet instinct, an impulse vital to the creation and appreciation of art, would tell you whether the commitment is abundant or scarce.
The average citizen might tell you that Fernando Amorsolo was a painter and would proceed to quip that that is as much as he knows.
Actually, you’re in luck when you encounter someone who possesses that knowledge because chances are Fernando Amorsolo is only as popular as the term “genre painting.”
This shows that the way we regard art is amiss. If something is important to us, we work hard to make it retain the characteristics we initially admired it for.
If these characteristics fade with time, we try to at least preserve their precious memories. Apparently, we do not apply this principle to the way we regard art.
Lest we forget, art is the ever-important artifact of our culture and a reflection of our identity as a people. Failing the arts is failing the humanity of our society and, unless we would rather be living like androids leading rigid, mechanized lives, we best appreciate the arts more.
The classroom is a place where many of our aspirations are realized. Knowing that, we might as well utilize schools to promote the arts more intensively. If we can mandate that physical education be taken during college, why not do the same with art appreciation classes?
And if we ever reach such level of thoughtfulness and prudence, barring corruption that is a social ill we know is significantly harder to combat; the money necessary for the arts to flourish should appear.
Editor’s note: Juan Paulino O. Cornejo is based in the United Arab Emirates. He was born and raised in Aparri, Cagayan and a graduate of Art Studies from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Cornejo is musically inclined, plays guitar and wrote music for several bands during and after college.