Is Federal Money The Best Way To Fund The Arts? Join The Debate

05/01/2012 10:19 am ET | Updated May 01, 2012

Early this year, Yancey Strickler, one of the founders of the crowd-sourced funding site Kickstarter, made a big claim. In an interview repeated across the internet, Strickler said Kickstarter expects to distribute more money in 2012 than the National Endowment for the Arts' entire fiscal budget for the year. The comparison drew ire from critics who pointed out the NEA's larger function to make art accessible, as well as the many successful Kickstarter projects that aren't about art so much as commerce. But nuances didn't detract from the drama of a 4-year-old startup calling into question the relevance of a 47-year-old government agency. When the NEA slashed funding last month to two entities historically dependent on it, public television and public radio, the question of its effectiveness became impossible to avoid.

We here at HuffPost Culture would like to examine what is undoubtedly an inflection point in the evolution of arts funding. In the face of headlines gleefully crowning lighter, faster online models as inevitable successors, is federal funding worth protecting? Is it the best way to fund the arts? The worst? Is there some other model -- already in existence somewhere in the world, or yet to be discovered -- worth exploring? Should we even be funding the arts?

These are the questions at the heart of HuffPost Culture's first installment in the site-wide series "Change My Mind." We've asked two experts on opposing sides to argue their case. Read their opinions below, and let us know your take in the comments. Did you change your mind?

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