Your article on the Newsweek web dated May 29, 2003 is by far one of the best articles I have seen concerning the purpose of the arts, and the state of the arts in our country and why. In your writing, you crystalized the sentiments I have held for a long, long time. Kudos to you for having the courage to write it like it is -- regardless of all the toes you will be stepping on.
We really have lost our vision. I have ALWAYS advocated that the arts should lead (by example and education) and inspire people to greater heights within themselves, which in turn makes for better citizens and an improved society. How can anyone put a price tag on that? At the end of the day, the alternative is far, far more costly. But then, one has to have vision to "get" that.
Our government (national and state) has lost its vision, if it ever really had it (of which I am not convinced). They don't "see" the connection: that you can't run the government (people) and the arts (inspiration, things of the spirit & dealing with character of people) like a business (money, material goods). The arts (and people) certainly deserve to be perceived as having more worth than material goods.
I do not have any desire to live in a society that does not value the arts; it tells me they do not value the spirit, or things of the spirit. THAT frightens me.