Art and Politics (1975)
Printed extract from statements made on the "Art and Politics" panel of the symposium "The Arts: Years of Development, Time of Decision," University of Texas at Austin, September 29, 1975.
I could not agree more with Kirk Douglas. I think that what is being done for the arts in this country so far is too little. It is piddling. It is not following what the public wants and needs, as demonstrated by what the public has been doing.
To go further with those statistics that Miss Sills originally brought up and which have been elaborated on by this panel, not only did 64 percent of the population polled, 93 million Americans, say that they would add $5 a year to their income tax to support artistic institutions, but 50 percent of those with incomes under $5,000 a year, also said that they would contribute $5 a year to cultural institutions.
That not only indicates the extent of the support for the arts among the people, but it also indicates the depth of the support that exists. Mr. Lowry said, and rightfully so, it is one thing to say "I'll add $5 on to my income tax" when the poll taker comes around to my door, but will I do it when my income tax is due? This is all very true. It may mot be a practical measure in fact to add $5 onto the tax. But the point of the Harris poll is not so much that we can go out tomorrow and get this $5 from 64 percent of the people, but that 64 percent of the people were serious enough about art and culture to say that they would do so. It is up to the legislatures to interpret this and make it a reality.
As far as censorship is concerned, I again agree with what Mr. Douglas said. It is not a problem until it is a problem. From my own standpoint, I would simply say if you give me the money, I will worry about the censorship. The problem does not exist until the amount of money is there to make it serious. And I think the first problem is that the federal government and the state governments have to take art and culture as seriously as the individual people in the communities are taking it.