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Are we living in a third-world state?

May Day celebration in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Wisconsin will spend 15 cents per person on the arts this year while Minnesotans will get $5.77!

That is public money. I keep hearing this totally shocking comparison between Wisconsin and Minnesota, our neighbor to the west, thanks in no small part to Gayle Worland's article in the Wisconsin State Journal last month. Along with a color-coded map showing where arts have it good it the U.S. is general information about where money for the arts comes from (ticket sales, etc).

Nationwide, 9.5% of money comes from foundations; 8.4% from corporations.

I can't find number for humanities spending. People tend not to know what you mean when you say the humanities. In fact I've spent much of my career explaining the difference between the arts and the humanities but I'm not sure it's a good idea to do that. Anne Pasternak of New York's CreativeTime, at a talk here in Madison last week, reminded everyone that the reason we separate arts from humanities is to suit funders. It's a false distinction in order to get at the pots of money.

The Wisconsin Arts Board has worked hard to show how the arts are intricately linked to the economy. It's nice to hear numbers, like "local nonprofit arts organizations generate $535 million in economic activity annually" and "resulting in $479 million in resident income." But I think that a lot of folks inherently understand that artists are trendsetters who revitalize neighborhoods, bring in high-end tourist and clients, and make a city look and feel good. The argument, really, is about who should pay for the art.

The humanities are tied to higher education and are seen as elite subjects, so they have other challenges. Governor Walker just made some statements about how funding for the Wisconsin university system should be tied to the success graduates have in getting jobs. It translates to mean that degrees in the humanities, where there are surely fewer jobs to be had, will get pushed out. Ironically, or whatever, that means there will be even fewer jobs in the humanities. Go to a private school if you want to study anthropology, he says.

Public money is drying up for things that I think are important.

The arts and the humanities are just different ways to say culture. Universal human capacities we have for making meaning of the world.

What about all those businesses out there that depend on, serve, and want to distinguish themselves to a cultured client? Isn't it in their best interest to support the arts and humanities?

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