Letters to the Editor

Art's worth is priceless compared to commerce | Letters | Dec. 11

I would like to respond to the Marsh/Satoh, and Dombrowski letters to the Review (Dec. 4) decrying the funding of the arts by the City of Bainbridge Island.

Their arguments, as I understand them, are threefold:

(1) They are opposed to government (taxpayer) funding of the arts as a philosophical matter (subsidizing where it has no business, or stake); (2) opposed to government funding for the arts at the expense of more essential services; (3) opposed to government funding for the arts as unearned subsidy for those who cannot support their own endeavors.

To begin, the argument that establishes the arts as an essential human activity and component of society was won thousands of years ago as evidenced by cave paintings the world over made under circumstances that can only be imagined as day-by-day survival mode in the most brutal conditions.

Art is not a luxury; never was. The precedent of public (read government) investment in the arts as a necessary expression of a society and culture has been established in the records, art, architecture and writings of any historical and modern civilization one cares to name. It is absolutely valid and proper that our representative government harness community (tax) resources and fashion some structure to support the realization of this essential human urge to express.

As to the lack of commercial self-sufficiency of the arts in what we commonly understand to be the “marketplace,” that would be a valid concern, and indeed would be a good argument for weeding out all artistic endeavor if the only solvent for human activity were commercial value. Fortunately it is not.

I do wince sometimes when advocates feel the need to defend the arts with the argument of economic relevance. What art does for us and to us is much more important than mere commerce.

I applaud the City Council for the vision to restore some of the BIAHC funding to help keep our arts nonprofits creaking down the road.

If the city would like to add more funding for the arts from its City Hall Landscape budget, I’m very good with a pair of garden shears.

Alan Simcoe

Lynwood Center Road

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