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Arts jobs turn out to be real jobs

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Congress settled the question of whether or not arts jobs are real jobs Friday night when it approved a massive stimulus bill that includes a modest $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. The money is meant to fund activities that ‘preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn.’

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) defended the spending. He told The Times’ Richard Simon:

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‘There are 5 million people who work in the arts industry. And right now they have 12.5% unemployment -- or are you suggesting that somehow if you work in that field, it isn’t real when you lose your job, your mortgage or your health insurance?’

Now the question is: How much of a dent in that 12.5% unemployment rate will be made by the small bump in NEA funding?

--Christopher Knight


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