Aunque todo lo dicho no sea cierto, todo lo cierto no está dicho.

While not all that is said is true, not all that is truth is told.

David has art, Goliath has weapons

David has art, Goliath has weapons: A Requiem for the NEA

Opinion by Fernando A. Torres


While “small” countries in our “backyard” increase their budget to support art and culture, what the biggest military in the world is doing? Increasing its war coffers and slashing social and environmental programs, including the arts.

A slide in the military budget pizza would be the only cut needed to alleviate the almost $20 trillion national debt; but, never mind, the Appointed-President decided to knife off minuscule part of the budget entombing crucial agencies and organizations working on issues such as civil rights, minority businesses, public broadcasting, environment and the ARTS.

Yes. The Appointed-President is not only displuming PBS’ Big Bird, he is also killing the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) which cost Americans only 46 cents per year! Although, annoyingly highbrowed at times, we have to recognize that the agency was exemplary in the use of tax money to fund the arts, a microscopic alternative to Caiman Island tax evaders. Its creative ways of backing artist has been echoed by similar initiatives around the world.

There are around 17 programs on the killing bloc that cost us $22.36 per year. Nothing to compare – for instance – with the mortgage interest deduction, a housing subsidy favorite of the rich, that costs to each one of us $296.29!

The money spend on these programs is so insignificant that the move seems to be political, a malicious move to punish the advancement of democratic, all-inclusive, open-minded, liberal values.

A frontal assault on cultural progress in which capitalism (market economy) blatantly disregards its responsibility in the current state of affairs, the economy and the anguishing social state of invigorated racism, ignorance and stupidity. The one percent is in power all out, no doubt about it. And the distasteful culture of the rich and famous, fiend and soulless, began to darken reason, civility, even honor.

The Appointed-President’s hordes of butchers seems proud that the military budget and the boost of the nuclear arsenal proposed, would be the largest in the history of the Pentagon. This indicates a sense of insecurity, a non-existent vulnerability, concepts imposed by the extreme right that is infecting the moderated right and even the center. But what more of an affirmation do we need? Aren’t we the most powerful military country in the world?

David has art Goliath has weapons. In small and tie-budgeted countries such as Bolivia, art and culture is recognized as the spinning center of its social fabric. They have put together a Department of Cultures (note the plural) to allocate budgets with the premise that their country is a multi-national state where many ethnic nations live together. To make books and works of arts accessible, they have scratched out their value-added and transaction taxes, they have built new libraries and created artists awards in all disciplines and literary works in indigenous languages. They have also created a national registry for artists that not only surveys the state of the arts, but also acknowledge and exempts them from paying taxes. Can you believe that?

In another tiny country, located at only 2700 miles from the US, art and culture policies are being organized to fine-tune concepts such as heritage, memory, arts and creativity, to recognize artists and art promoters as cultural workers with the same right of any worker to social security. Ecuador also funds artists through grant systems. But their most important goal is – with the establishment of the Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Creativity – to transition the support for arts and culture, from a government initiative to a state policy.

As many “small” countries are demonstrating, art is not only for beauty, but also a good remedy for self-esteem, security, and peaceful coexistence among people and nations within countries. The defunding of art will always be a self inflicted cut and a miss-opportunity to beautifully welcome new generations. ##


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