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Word Count: 599
It is my opinion that the role of the arts in our country is that they are part of our educational system The arts and art education teach us design organization cooperation creativity risk-taking and most of all that we need to be active participants in our society I believe that education is a main priority and therefore art should be as well Since 1965 the most prominent source of government support for the arts has been from the National Endowment for the Arts NEA In the Declaration of Purpose for the NEA Congress said that it is necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to help create and sustain a climate encouraging freedom of thought imagination and inquiry The federal government has been funding art for centuries long before the creation of the NEA in 1965 In the 1930s the federal government employed thousands of artist photographers writers dramatists and musicians to help them survive in the depths of the Great Depression Many artists in the federal program helped document the events of the time Photographer Dorothy Lange for example traveled the country to take memorable photos of unemployed men in soup kitchen lines ruined farms in the Dust Bowl and poor unemployed families in labor camps Others were employed in public work projects painting murals or sculpting in government buildings And still others were paid to practice art Among some of the notable artists that were on the federal payroll at the time were painters William de Kooming and Ben Shahn The government even ran a theater called the Federal Theatre Project which got shut down because of its controversial left-wing views found in most of the productions Many people believe that the NEA should not receive funding or in other words should be shut down An extremely valid argument is that in attempting to draw guidelines on which pieces or exhibits should be funded by the federal government we are infringing
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