Art in Embassies Program
The new financial year has just begun. And we’re all charting out plans and budgets for the year ahead. Incidentally, so is the American government. They are reallocating funds reserved for art.
The No Art in Embassies Act
This initiative to ban all art in U.S. Embassies overseas, is a bill that has been brought forth by congressman Tim Burchett. What is it proposing? The bill is for banning any art purchases for American embassies outside the United States. According to artnet, the bill was introduced in reaction to the government spending $84,375 on a sculpture by Bob Dylan. This artwork has been specifically purchased for the US embassy in Mozambique.
The problem is not the choice of artwork or its price. Instead, the issue is that this money was spent during the government shutdown. A shutdown that began around December 2018. From the outside, it looked to people as though the government was happy spending big money, while its citizens went unpaid.
In the end it is a rather strange question for politicans to ask, and asnwer. Should government spend money or Art? How should the Government spend taxes on Art? Who should benefit from this relationship between Government and Art ? For many, the answer is simply – the gross amount of money being spent of “decorating” essentially buildings for govermental work is unnecessary and wasteful. Should the bill be passed, no American embassy will be allowed to display art on their premises.
The Art in Embassies program was introduced back in 1953. It’s main purpose – that of promoting a cultural exchange through the exhibition of art. Is Art an effective tool for brokering understanding between cultures and people? YES! However, when the price-tag attached to this “cultural-exchange” exceeds all bounds of normalcy, then it’s a problem. The tax-payign citizen of any country does not want to feel like they are being duped.
Things to Consider
There is a key question to consider – how are these funds going to be reallocated? Who benifits, how do they benefit, and is it still art-centric spending. In our opinion, art-schools, and artinstitutions that are free for the public should get some of this monet. Other parts of the funds can be distributed for art-scholarships. Along with directing some of the money to art-programming for public schools. Furthermore, whilst the bill categorically states that embassies cannot display or purchase art, they are allowed to display it. Is there any such Bill or Act in your country? Where do you think art-funding should go?
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Through Art Market & You, Art From Us provides you with Analysis, Opinion and Factual Reports regarding the current on-goings of the Global Art Market. In this article, we explore the Art in Embassies Program.