Apparently Senate Majority Leader Reid believes that the Elko Cowboy Poetry Festival is dependent on government handouts.

“The mean-spirited bill, H.R. 1 … eliminates the National Endowment of the Humanities, National Endowment of the Arts,” said Reid. “These programs create jobs. The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”
I'm sure they get grants -- that's what these grants are for -- but I wonder how much they depend on grants. The reason I ask is that the recording they put out one year -- Elko! A Cowboy's Gathering -- features an opening monologue by Baxter Black that asserts the gathering had proven that poetry could be profitable. It's probably not worth $0.99 to listen to three minutes of boosterism about the festival, but the clear impression is that it's doing just fine.

(On the other hand, the track called "Silver Spurs" certainly is worth the price, as are several tracks from the two-volume set.)

It looks like National Review was curious too, and report on the relatively modest grants.

So what is the upshot here? Is Elko doomed, or will it do just fine -- perhaps scale back a little, at most? Usually festivals are fundraisers, even little county or state fairs.

The money at issue hardly matters; we're not going to get to solvency in ten- or fifty-thousand dollar cuts. It's entitlements that must be addressed, especially Medicare, Medicaid and government pensions. Maybe there's a principle that matters, and maybe not: I can see reasons to argue that at least the initial $50,000 grant was money-well-spent, and similar cultural startups might be worth supporting as well.

Still, it seems like Elko might be able to sit deep, and ride this one out.

No comments: