Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Doing good, or doing well?

According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, one-third of the fifty state arts agencies' per capita state appropriation is $0.50 or less for the first time since...well, forever. (Vermont's per capita support for the arts is around $.82, in case you wondered.) Even more distressing, the amount of dollars that State Arts Agencies have received since 2001 has decreased by an inflation-adjusted figure of 43%.

Put more succinctly, State Arts Agencies are doing everything they do today with about half of what they had ten years ago.

It gets more distressing...

I picked up a copy of the current issue of Forbes' 400 (hey, Jay-Z was on the cover). I was struck by a teaser headline on the cover "Best Year Ever For The Richest Taxpayers."

Turning to the article (page 202 in case your copy happens to be lying around), I read the first sentence: "For the 400 richest Americans, 2010 may go down as the best year ever when it comes to paying taxes." Sure, 2011 won't be quite as good to our richest friends, but even if you are not a close relative of George Steinbrenner (you guys hit the lottery this year!), you'll probably be okay when your taxes go up a few points next year . Better than okay, actually.

When I was growing up I learned at my grandparents knee(s) two important lessons. The first was if you wanted to achieve anything, the best way was to be generous with giving others credit. The second was, doing good is far more important than doing well.

I have a suggestion for the 400 richest Americans starting January 2011, since it is clearly going to be a "rough year" for them. Consider taking one-half of one percent of your wealth, and make a personal charitable donation to your state's community foundation to support the arts and cultural activities of your state.

If just the 10 richest did this, it would enrich our lives to the tune of $1.354 billion. That's a pretty nice tax deduction. Plus, you'll not only be doing better, you'll be doing good.

1 comment:

lanid said...

Museums have been having this same struggle for at least the last 20 years. Benefactors donate less. A lot of information and images that we used to have to go to museums and art centers to see is now available online. Users see that as free, perhaps without realizing that there is a cost to create and display materials, whether artistic, historical,cultural, archaeological or other. Not for profits all over have to be able to prove that they are relevant and have value to the guy who wears gumboots in his daily tasks.