Monday, February 23, 2009
I attend several live music events every week.
Even so, it's startling when performances like Friday's jazz event at the Gem Theater are preceded by a lengthy acknowledgment of various sponsors. In this case, they included the ArtsKC Fund, the City of Kansas City, MO, the Institute of Museum & Library Services, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Missouri Arts Council and the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund.
I don't begrudge the American Jazz Museum or anyone else involved with Friday's excellent event for accepting those funds, but I can't help but wonder exactly how these sponsorship decisions are made.
Why does the majority of funding seem to be dedicated to classical and jazz events? Would last week's jazz concert at The Gem and the classical performances at The Folly have transpired without the assistance of taxpayer dollars? And if these events can't validate themselves through intrinsic audience support should they even take place?
I suspect that the owners of Jardine's, The Phoenix and Soho 119 could make an argument that the jazz they featured Friday also had great artistic merit. Yet these private sector businesses were competing directly against government favoritism.
And what about other genres? Both The Czar Bar and The Record Bar offered bills loaded with acclaimed rock and folk-rock artists on Friday night. Are they any less deserving of government support?
Are members of the local underground hip hop scene eligible for money? How about bluegrass musicians? Gospel acts?
I'm not entirely comfortably with this use of federal, state and city tax dollars. And as much as I adored Friday's jazz show, I honestly can't say it was superior to the self-sustaining hip hop and rock shows I attended in the last week.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)