While there are many definitions of the arts, Public Law 209 of the 89th United States Congress’ definition of “the arts” include, but are not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture and allied fields, painting sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, industrial design, recording, the arts related presentation, performance, execution, and exhibition of such major art forms, and the study and application of the arts to the human environment.
Given the definitions above that describe arts and culture as something that has the capacity to influence people and even inspire individuals, the government has just as much to gain if it supports society’s artistic expressions in its many forms. The challenge at this time is two-fold: one is the preservation and development of the national cultural values and traditions inherent to the community and which have provided its people with national pride, and inspiration; on the other hand, it is accepting the nuances of others’ cultures with the purpose of enriching its very own.
It is, without a doubt, established around the world that part of a government’s duty is to organize its people and resources toward the common good of the people (Dietz 1990). If the arts and culture are seen as factors contributing to a society’s quality of life then the government support is essential in the protection as well as propagation of the arts and culture. The more advanced nations have their cultural affairs lead by a governmental department whose powers and scope of influence are far and wide.
The government takes pride in the accomplishments and world-wide recognition of the nation’s culture. This is known as public diplomacy and is crucial as it boosts the country’s international image (Cowling, 2004). Thus, the more the government supports the culture and arts, the better its influence on cultural policies that would be implemented. The United Kingdom, for example, is acknowledged widely as a world leader in the performing, visual and creative arts (Cowling, 2004). One of the most visited art spaces in the world is the Tate Modern.
This success was even replicated in Gateshead by the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Their opera, dance and theatre are just as widely commended not only for their economic and social impact but in their aesthetic excellence as well. It was, however, the collaboration of the government and art bodies that made possible the “Arts for Everyone” scheme. This aimed to promote the idea that everybody can engage with the arts. First, the most tangible way a government can do this is to elevate the department or agency that oversees this sector to cabinet level in the government.
This move is strategic as well because the arts and culture cannot only thrive with government funding but from private funding as well. Corporate sponsorships is one of the five major sources of funding for the arts in the United Kingdom (Cowling, J. 2004) The second is policy making. In the United Kingdom, the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) has overall responsibility for the arts. The devolved Arts Council aims to strategize on how to promote access, education and excellence in the arts. By setting clear goals and direction, the government can ensure that the cultural policy it adheres to will be the one to be implemented.