Huffpost Culture

The Pittsburgh Opera Honored Gov. Tom Corbett. Should They Have Judged Him Instead?

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Last week, the Pittsburgh Opera became the center of a local firestorm for their decision to honor Gov. Tom Corbett and his wife for their service to the opera. In a blog post that went unexpectedly viral, University of Pittsburgh fellow Jessie Ramey held up the governor's record of cutting education funding as reason to disqualify him from any honorifics, especially those in the field of the arts, where his actions, she said, could have lasting damage.

Ramey reposted her piece on our site, and the reaction from HuffPost Culture readers was phenomenal. This was clearly a local story with universal resonance, centered around a simple, provocative question: should arts organizations judge their benefactors?

Well, we want to know what you think. We recast the question of the Pittsburgh Opera's decision into a debate, the latest in our "Change My Mind" series. To participate, click through the steps below, read both sides, and let us know if you changed your mind. As always, share your thoughts in the comments.


Pre-debate poll:

Tell us your opinion before the debate starts to set the starting line

Arts organizations should honor benefactors, even those whose actions might negatively affect the arts.

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Who makes the better argument?

Point: The Pittsburgh Opera should not honor Governor Tom Corbett and his wife, because as governor, he's cut funding that ultimately hurts the arts.

I always found solace in knowing that, despite the governor's efforts to strip the state's education system of everything that has any value to developing young minds, people could still seek out and enrich themselves in the great arts programs that our many communities provide. Despite the destruction that our governor has brought down, there were still good people and institutions out there that could pick up the slack. Now I see that there is one less. Shame, shame, shame. A joint lifetime achievement award for art and education should factor in the recipient's whole lives' impact on art and education in the state...not just how it has benefited the opera in a few short years.
-Ty Best
Point: The Pittsburgh Opera should honor Governor Tom Corbett and his wife, because they are benefactors who've helped the Opera function.

The Joint Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the Corbetts’ long-term records of public service and support of the arts through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Mrs. Corbett has served on the PCA board for 10 years and now chairs the agency; Governor Corbett oversees the budget. PCA funding is instrumental to our ability to provide opera education to 20,000 area educators and school children, free community programs such as our Brown Bag concerts and Opera Up Close, and to keep our starting ticket price at . PCA is a significant funder of the arts statewide, not just for us, and we truly appreciate its longstanding support.
--Official statement from The Pittsburgh Opera



Did one of the arguments change your mind?

Arts organizations should honor benefactors, even those whose actions might negatively affect the arts.


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"Agree""Disagree"Neither argumenthas changed the most minds