Think Culture is Expensive? Try Ignorance.

The National Endowment for the Arts has a new director and a new slogan—forget “A Great Nation Deserves Great Art”. Late last week Broadway producer Rocco Landesman was confirmed by Congress as the new head of the NEA. Landesman is being quite open about the changes he envisions: besides the new slogan reminding people that artists are gainfully employed just as mill workers are, and that the arts help to improve the economy by enlivening urban areas, Landesman himself will work to increase the NEA budget. He is calling the current arts budget “invisible” and “embarrassing”. Quite.

The United Kingdom has one fifth the population of the United States, but its public arts budget is massive by comparison. For the upcoming year, the U.K.’s NEA, called the Arts Council, will doll out nearly £350 million plus a £40 million stimulus boost totaling £390, or $643 million. The NEA budget for 2009 is $161 million (peep).


The NEA budget was cut nearly in half in 1996 when its ability to sponsor individual artists was revoked by Congress. The funding cut was a result of controversy caused by artists like Robert Young and Andres Serrano (remember the Piss Christ?) who tested the limits of artistic sexual expression with NEA funding. The NEA remains prohibited from funding individual artists.

While funding for the arts is “inefficient” in that it doesn’t necessarily produce a readily consumable good, I remember seeing some graffiti in France that read, “Think culture is expensive? Try ignorance”.

A publicly funded arts model seems to be working comparatively well in England. The British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC, while not being directly underwritten by the government is funded by a television licensing fee (yes, a tax). If you own a TV, you pay the fee. One result is user-friendly content. So until the U.S. sees the light on this one, take advantage of these tools for artists of all media compliments of the BBC.

Archaeologists unearth dozens of mummified cats in Egypt

Dozens of mummified cats were dug up this week. This isn't as shocking as you might think.

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Culture & Religion
  • Archaeologists in Egypt have found dozens of mummified cats in the tomb of a royal offical.
  • The cats will join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of previously discovered ancient kitties.
  • While the cats are nothing special, the tomb also held well preserved beetles.
Keep reading Show less

Men obsessed with building muscle mass have higher mental health risks

They're at a higher risk for depression, weekend binge drinking, and unnecessary dieting.

Palestinian participants flex their muscles during a bodybuilding competition in Gaza city on October 28, 2016. / AFP / MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Mind & Brain
  • Body dysmorphia is not limited to women, a new study from Norway and Cambridge shows.
  • Young men that focus on building muscle are at risk for a host of mental and physical health problems.
  • Selfie culture is not helping the growing number of teens that are anxious and depressed.
Keep reading Show less

The connection paradox: Why are workplaces more isolating than ever?

How poor work practices turn us all into remote workers.

Videos
  • Technology's supposed interconnectivity doesn't breed human interaction, and has instead made many workers feel less happy and less productive.
  • Using email rather than walking over to someone's desk and having face-to-face time is a major culprit. Inter-office messaging apps can also make employees feel more distant from their co-workers.
  • Can the tech companies who created this issue turn workplace isolation around, or is this the new normal?
Keep reading Show less