For the first time in my tenure as a supervisor, the board discussed funding for arts and culture. I am curious as to your thoughts.
A bit of background: County governments have been charged with two primary functions since counties were developed in medieval England.
One is to maintain the roads. The other is to care for the poor.
Both things are still primary functions of county government, but the scope has grown to include many additional things.
One area where the board has not previously gone is the area of arts and culture.
Iowa City and Coralville spend a fairly significant amount in this arena.
The state and federal governments spend, but at a far reduced rate from the past. The county, meanwhile, has done nothing.
Some Iowa counties do contribute to funding arts and culture.
Polk County does quite a bit, though much of that comes through gambling revenues that we lack. Linn County has also done some spending.
I’ll be honest; I have some guilt in this area.
When I was young activist, back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I often found myself opposed to funding arts and culture.
I was a social worker, and my first priority was always basic human needs – food, shelter, etc.
The business crowd that ran local government at the time was very cagey about pitting those of us who wanted funding for human needs versus those who wanted funding for arts and culture.
They pitted us against each other every time – with great success, I am disappointed to admit.
Unfortunately, it took me a long time to figure this out.
What are your thoughts?