EDITORIAL | Insuring privately owned art is the responsibility of artists, not taxpayers

  • Saturday, August 12, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

The Langley Arts Commission this week proposed the city council approve a measure to have taxpayers foot the bill for insuring temporary public art.

Perhaps we’re being philistines here, but picking up the tab for private artists who are already benefiting from displaying their works in prominent public locations is a form of government subsidization and therefore an inappropriate use of public funds. It would far better if the arts commission raised the funds itself to cover the cost.

The temporary public art program began a few years ago with the formation of the arts commission. Both were beneficial additions to Langley, a town that’s heavily supportive and increasingly defined by the arts.

The program works by allowing artists to display their works, free of charge, in locations around the city for a period of 18 months. If it sells, the city gets 20 percent of the proceeds. If it doesn’t, the commission puts out a call of new pieces.

Frank Rose, chairman of the arts commission, argues that artists can’t afford to buy insurance themselves and that picking up the tab isn’t a subsidy because public art enriches Langley and is a draw for visitors.

“The government gains, and the community gains from it,” he said.

We agree that the temporary art program is a great program and that Langley is better for it. But if artists are selling their work, then they’re in business and it’s not the job of taxpayers to pay their bills. Other cities may do so, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good practice or mean there aren’t better ways to safeguard temporary public art works.

This issue came about suddenly and it’s not unreasonable for Langley to try and help with the cost of the project that brought the issue to light so it can make the scheduled Aug. 18 debut, but in the future the arts commission should be responsible for funding insurance for privately owned artwork. Given the community’s great love of the arts, we suspect it would have no trouble doing so.

More in Opinion

Cartoon for Nov. 17, 2018

Cartoon for Nov. 17, 2018… Continue reading

Sound Off: Shop local on Small Business Saturday

By Betty Freeman South Whidbey is home to an array of creative… Continue reading

Letter: Writer should be ashamed of his ‘misleading letter’

Editor, Well, I hope no one ever hires Lee Rebman to analyze… Continue reading

Letter: We can do better —don’t drive under the influence

Editor, Once again, Island Thrift has fulfilled the Impaired Driving Impact Panel… Continue reading

Letter: Trump is thuggish buffoon who would be laughed at

Editor, So, we’ve come to this. A president who praises Congressman Gianforte… Continue reading

Letter: Let your representative know the changes wanted

Editor, We all know that government is slow, at least when it… Continue reading

Letter: Electromagnetic fields are all around us, affect health

Editor, In normal Whidbey life, the typical exposure of a child or… Continue reading

Letter: Letter writer was incorrect about Initiative 1631 info

Editor, Norman Bodine’s anti-Initiative 1631 letter of Oct. 9 states, “95 percent… Continue reading

Letter: Can U C Me Campaign for safety awareness

Editor, This time of year, it’s dark when I leave my house… Continue reading

Most Read