What do we know about Romney’s relationship to art? So far, he’s been a hard nut to crack on that topic, but what we can tell doesn’t look good. Proving he’s a true believer in small government, Romney loathes government funding for the arts, and private arts funding gets a free pass. Proving he’s sensitive, he told Oprah he likes to paint. In fact, he’s related to a well-known portraitist.
From what we dug up, based on our own research and news stories already circulating the web, Romney’s relationship to art is still as black-and-white as his hawkish sound bites let on. Check out what we found; we’re sure there will be more sound bites to come up in the weeks leading up to the election.
1. Mitt Romney really doesn’t like government arts funding.
Tyler Green just posted about Romney’s record on arts funding while serving as Governor of Massachusetts. Based on his track record as governor, it’s scary to think about what Romney might try as president. What’d he do? Well, for one, he tried to axe the entire budget of the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, which provides organizations with funding for building improvements and expansion. Then, on multiple occasions, he tried to cut the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which gives out grants to individual artists and statewide arts organizations.
2. Mitt Romney really, really doesn’t like government arts funding.
We can’t emphasize this one enough: Romney doesn’t care a lick about the NEA, he wants to get rid of PBS, and he doesn’t see the potential for job creation through arts funding. Every single one of these things is a real and serious threat to the already limited funding support the arts receive in the States.
After Romney’s Big Bird moment on the televised debates, PBS responded with an open letter to the presidential hopeful about how the tiny amount of money targeted toward public broadcasting amounts to robust job growth:
A key thing to remember is that public television and radio stations are locally owned and community focused and they are experts in working efficiently to make limited resources produce results. In fact, for every $1.00 of federal funding invested, they raise an additional $6.00 on their own — a highly effective public-private partnership.
We agree, and we balk at how, while Romney carries a torch for job creation, he can’t admit that the arts support job growth, too. Do not let this man try to repeat what he did in Massachusetts on a national scale.
3. Mitt Romney comes from an artsy family.
Before the Romneys immigrated to the States, there was at least one of the clan with an inkling for creativity. George Romney was a celebrated 18th century portraitist, and his works can be found in Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art. Heaven help us if Romney gets elected, but at least we know of one artist whose work will find its way into the White House’s art collection.
4. Mitt Romney is a painter.
Romney has taken a liking to that manly chore, house painting. He told Oprah all about his domestic talents:
“I’ve painted rooms, stained floors. Oftentimes I don’t even need to put down a drop cloth.”
Actually, this makes no sense at all. There’s no way that you can paint large parts of a house without a drop cloth; we doubt Romney’s actually done any of this.
5. Mitt Romney supports corporate giving to museums, libraries, and fine arts organizations.
Before Romney left Bain Capital, the company founded a charitable giving arm, the Bain Capital Children’s Charity. Since the charity’s founding, in 1997, more than $30 million in grants have been gifted to organizations like the Boston Public Library, Boston Museum of Science, Boston Children’s Choir, and Celebrity Series of Boston. There’s no funding for visual art on this list.