This morning I dropped in on an Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting which was addressing funding for the arts in the county. In light of the commission recently revoking an awarded art project at the new Orange County medical examiners building, I was interested in hearing the board's opinion of general arts funding for the next fiscal year.
Our county designates a percentage of a tourist bed tax for arts organizations. In the midst of the recession the tax is returning 20% less than two years ago. The recommended dispersal of the funds was already worked out by an advisory committee, and the budget was approved by a commission voice vote. The commissioner who led the charge for deleting art from the medical examiners building questioned the general funding by asking, "how can we measure the return on investment in the cultural arts?"
Good question. Though studies are done on cultural tourism and the economic effect from it,
I also wonder how we measure the effect in quality of life for the citizenry. Not everything a government does should directly return money. While Orange County doesn't donate money to build churches, they also don't get any return on property taxes for the land a church occupies. Can we admit there are intangibles that can't be measured in dollars and cents?
What's new: Here is an updated image on my current painting commission.