This photo courtesy of the US government


General Culture, General Photography, Politics

With so many people - especially from the right - railing against government funding for artists, here’s another way to think about it. Without the US government giving money to photographers to document life during the Great Depression, this iconic photograph, one of the most important and famous photographs ever to be taken in the United States, would not have come into existence (see details of the photo shoot here), and the same is true for many other, lesser known examples from that era.

So what do we remember now, looking back 63 years: The people railing back then against government handouts for artists - or the photograph of Florence Owens Thompson and her children, an embodiment of hardship and human suffering, and the result of money given to a photographer to document what people like Florence Owens Thompson were going through?

That is what government subsidies of the arts are about: They are not about merely handing out money to people who make a living from producing things that often cannot be given a simple price tag. They are about preserving and nourishing the human spirit. And anybody opposed to spending whatever measly amounts of money goes towards the arts in the US is opposed to exactly that.