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Weapons of Mass Destruction or Shakespeare?

Pick one to fund.

According to the New York Times, The British government recently chose to contribute 1.5 million pounds towards the translation of Shakespeare’s work into Mandarin. That is the equivalent of 2.44 million American dollars, and that is for one specific artistic project.

This sparked my curiosity because I was so impressed by the contribution of money towards the arts. I don’t remember the last time I saw any kind of headline like this in the U.S. And then I questioned myself further…why was this so shocking to read? Shouldn’t this be the norm? Not in the good ole’ U.S.of.A.

“Sgt. Shakespeare” by Robert Carter

The Department of Defense¬†in the White House proposed $495.6 billion dollars for the 2015 fiscal year. After combing through the white house budget for the amount set aside for the arts, I began to feel like an idiot. “Why isn’t there a tab for it? Am I missing something? Is it in human services? That would make sense…oh shit there’s only $77.1 billion set aside for that any way, that seems small, and that doesn’t include the arts…what the hell am I missing?” After further research, I came across the National Endowment for the Arts, and DUH, I knew about that– how silly was I to think that the arts would have its own tab on http://www.whitehouse.gov? Funding for the arts is so alien that it needs to be tucked away in an independent agency’s budget records.

146 million dollars had been set aside for the NEA in 2014. That is 0.03% of the defense budget. Read that sentence one more time. We spend less than a tenth of a percent on the arts than we do on weapons. When, in reality, art is the most powerful weapon we have in this world.


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