The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
7 Points

The Government Should Subsidize the Arts

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 11/30/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 10 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 363 times Debate No: 83197
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




The Government-Can be federal, state, local, etc. Any form of government.
Subsidize-Provide financial assistance to
The Arts-Music, literature, theater, etc.

1. First round is acceptance only.
2. Second round is for opening arguments only.
3. No new arguments in the final round.
4. No kritiks or semantics.
5. Shared BOP.
6. Violation of rules results in automatic loss.


Adhering to the rules listed in my opponents first post, I will only use this round to accept this debate.
I look forward to it. Let’s keep this civil but impassioned!
Debate Round No. 1


Nature of Subsidies:

This should be fairly obvious, but it’s worth stating. The government’s only source of revenue is taxation, which primarily comes from the people. This means for the government to subsidize art, there must be a tax imposed on the people.

Also, it should be mentioned that due to the fact governments typically spend a lot, they often have budget deficits. In the long run, budget deficits are bad for a country’s economy due to higher debt interest payments. (1)

Let the People Decide:

As mentioned, it is the people’s money that would pay for art subsidies. Hypothetically, let’s say a 1% income tax is used to subsidize an orchestra. To keep the math simple, we’ll say the average person makes about $50,000 per year, meaning they’d have to pay a $500 tax to subsidize said orchestra. However, what about the people who wouldn’t attend the orchestra (which would most likely be a wide majority)? In this case, the person would likely have no interest in funding something which they will never go to and they’d likely rather have the $500, which could be used to spend on something that the person actually wants or needs.

Seeing as governments typically want to and are expected to maximize people’s happiness, it would make the most sense for the person to decide themselves what they spend their money on, as opposed to forcing them to spend part of it on something that they may never watch, look at, experience, etc.

Economic Burden:

Economically, art subsidies would cause quite a few problems. One of these is simply having a higher deficit, discussed above. This is especially problematic as many countries (developed countries especially) have high debt:GDP ratios, so spending on non-essential items should be restricted. (2)

Another problem is that it would require higher taxes. Higher taxes take money away from what could be consumer spending and put it into something that is not guaranteed to turn any sort of profit.

Finally, one has to consider the opportunity cost. Tax money spent on art subsidies could be spent on other things, such as infrastructure, welfare for the poor, education, etc. Regardless, there are many services which will help more people and would never occur without the government. However, art would continue to live without the government and most art does not add anything to anyone’s lives.

Art is Subjective:

This is the most important point. No one can objectively determine which form of art is superior and worthy of government support. For example, I may see a certain song to be very well done art, but you might think it’s trash. Unless the government subsidies every art form, whether it be a high level pianist or a top-charting pop star, it is unfairly choosing what can be considered “good” art.






My opponent has made several very strong cases in his debate. Within his opening arguments there are three main points that can be derived:

1.) The Government should NOT subsidize art because people may not view/listen to it.

2.) The Government should NOT subsidize art because the money would be better spent elsewhere.

3.) The government should not subsidize art because people differ in opinion when it comes to “good” art.

Firstly, I’d like that to state that his arguments are sound in reason, however, the fail to consider a few key facts that cause them to be somewhat incorrect.

The main flaw is his argument is that he never specified that government should not subsidize specific works of art, or specific mediums of art. He labeled the argument as the Arts, which is far broader than he may realize. It is my contention that the government should subsidize the arts because of the following: 1.) the arts actively contribute to the economy. 2.) the arts actively contribute to society. 3.) the arts are undervalued by governments.

Point 1: The Arts and the Economy

The arts actively contribute to the economy by creating a plethora of jobs. Looking at two particular mediums of art (music and theatre) one can come to the conclusion that there are several positions used in order to produce a particular work. For music, the lyricist, musicians, technicians, and, to some extent, producers all gain something from creating art.

Theatre is particularly relevant. Within a given show, there are at least 8 positions that need to be filled. This number is libel to change, depending on the size of the production.

This relates back to the main argument because, with governmental subsidizing, it is likely that more theatre and music will be produced.

Point 2: The Arts and Society

It is wholly inaccurate for one to suggest that the arts do not actively contribute to society. Looking at evidence from the Greeks, Romans, Italians, and English, it is apparent that art was crucial in shaping each society for what they once were. In Ancient Greek society, Theatre was a crucial part of their existence. Offering plays to appease Dionysus, the Greeks valued theatre above most forms of expression. The Roman and Italians benefited from theatre because they utilized the idea of theatrical productions being used as messengers for political and societal agendas. The English utilized literature, theatre, and music in shaping how and what society was allowed to think. Even present day America is greatly influenced by the Arts. Film is a particular powerful medium, often changing society’s perception of a given issue. For example, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, a film from the 1960s starring Katheryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, greatly influenced people’s views on racial equality with its treatment of its subject matter.

Point 3: The Arts are Undervalued

Both points 1 and 2 directly correlate to this point in that because the arts are undervalued by the government, opportunities to influence the economy and society become less likely to occur because governments do not appreciate the arts. Budgets for art programs in high school and college are specifically low, despite the fact that artists contribute to society. This is where government subsidizing comes into play. It is my contention that, if governments were to subsidize the arts, it would only be to raise the declining quality of proper education and tutelage of and within the arts. In the next few round my opponent wishes to persuade you otherwise. However, looking at his points, there are a few issues that can be found.

In relationship to point 1, I would like to address that the cinema, or the art of filmography, is enjoyed by millions upon millions of people daily. For instance, Jurassic World grossed over $650,000,000 at the domestic box offices. It has joined the ranks of many films to conquer such a feat. This debunks the idea that not all people enjoy art, because the majority of people do, even if they are unaware.

Looking at point 2, it is my contention that the money would be well spent. Firstly, my two points from earlier provide a sufficient reason to consider allowing funding for the arts. However, if further proof is needed, one can simply consider the psychological and educational benefits that stem from artistic expression. Studies have shown that students exposed to the arts are often more proficient in reading, writing, and math. (1)

Finally, looking at point 3, I’ll concede that people do differ in opinion of what is good art. However, once again I’d like to point out that my opponent did not specify whether or not the government should subsidize a specific work of art. He asked should governments subsidize THE ARTS. Since most people do consume art, I respond with an unequivocal YES.

With these points laid out, I turn the debate over to my opponent.



Debate Round No. 2


RiceCracker forfeited this round.


Since my opponent has ff, I extend all my arguments for this round.
Debate Round No. 3


RiceCracker forfeited this round.


HermanGomez95 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by HermanGomez95 10 months ago
I would very much like to take this on. Being a theatre and film student I feel my personal relationship to the issue of the funds ( or lack thereof) provided to the arts would make me a worthy competitor. I accept all conditions and look forward to a great debate!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 10 months ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Disappointing that Con bailed on this debate. Pro gets the win automatically for this, but moreover his arguments did well to draw from specific instances in history to support his position, whereas Con relied entirely on hypotheticals and theoreticals. Theoretically yes, subsidizing art might just be another economic burden forced by the government, but this needn't be the case if art in some form or another is shown to be profitable, which Pro gives an example of.