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Nevada Arts Council: The Frill is Gone

Scott Dickensheets of the Las Vegas Sun had a column on Monday which gets to the very essence of the budget fight in Carson City: What constitutes an “essential” government service.

Now, according to those featured in Scott’s story, the Lost City Museum in Overton, Nevada – to which I’m willing to bet most Nevadans have never visited, even if they do know where Overton is – and the Nevada Arts Council are “essential” services. Most of the rest of us would disagree.

Food for impoverished, hungry children? Yeah. Medicine for low-income seniors? You betcha. Prisons for dirtbags? Absolutely. But taxpayer-funded grants for artists? No way, Jose.

Yet according to Susan Boskoff of the Nevada Arts Council, a 50 percent reduction (why not 100 percent?!!) in taxpayer funding for her department would be “Just devastating.” Gimme a break.

Now here’s the real disconnect with these folks. According to Boskoff, taxpayer-subsidized non-profit arts groups are just like a business. After all, she explains, they meet a payroll, buy and sell goods, and pay taxes.

Oh, puh-lease. If these folks want to be treated like businesses, then let them go out and survive without taxpayer-funded subsidies. If there’s a market for crappy paintings, junk sculptures and a Lost Museum, people will pay market prices for it. But the fact is there is no such demand – which is why the Susan Boskoff’s of the world need the government to FORCE taxpayers to fund their non-essential endeavors.

The “arts” are not essential, they’re a frill. The “arts” are the movie channels, not basic cable. The “arts” are an iPhone, not a standard home phone. The “arts” are steak, not potatoes. The Nevada Arts Council is not Medicaid. Therefore, to paraphrase the Queen of Hearts, “Off with its head!”