Should Government Support the Arts?

Leon Botstein is a conductor and academic known for his innovative programs and interest in contemporary and neglected repertory. He was a violin student of Roman Totenburg and studied conducting with James Yannatos, Richard Wernick, and Harold Farberman. He pursued dual careers in academics and music and became a teaching fellow in general education at Harvard University from 1968 to 1969, and then a lecturer in the department of history at Boston University in 1969. Meanwhile, he began conducting and from 1973 to 1975, and he was the principal conductor of the White Mountain Music and Arts Festival. In 1975, he became president of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, a position he still holds today.
  • Transcript


So to return to the question particularly for the United States in a democratic society we don’t support the art because we can’t agree as to what would be art.  We can agree what makes a profit, so if you want to do art you can pay for it.  Everyone is happy.  People can go to it.  But why should we subsidize opera companies, museums, artists, performance spaces, independent filmmakers and photographers?  Why do that?  Why not leave it simply to the marketplace?  And one way to solve that problem would be to say well as in science they can be kind of peer review, an objective sense of what is good, what is bad and if we could discriminate, if we could agree then we could say well these people deserve support, these people don’t.