Some people believe that government funding of the arts is necessary to ensure that the arts can flourish and be available to all people. Others believe that government funding of the arts threatens the integrity of the arts.
The trade-off between quality and quantity is the first thing that pops up in my mind. I completely agree with the former part of the issue. However, the latter part does arouse my attention as well. Government funding of the arts might threaten the integrity, because, when it is funded, some people might take it for granted, and start producing lower quality art, which in turn would lead to the loss of integrity in the art. But in all other cases, where people respect the art they are involved in, and would not compromise their forte, irrespective of the fact that they are funded or not, in such cases, government funding of the arts would ensure that the arts flourish, without threatening the integrity of the art.
Funding necessarily does not mean only providing the required amount of money. It also includes various other acts such as promotion of the art, publicity and sponsorship, and most importantly, providing a public platform to the artists. This would help artists reach a wider audience, and when appreciated, would encourage them to work harder. It also includes providing inventory, that is, good material. Many artists fail because they are impecunious and lack the resources to succeed. Government funding could include proper training of artists to ensure that their work is of a better quality as well.
This works in both ways. On one hand, it helps the artists realize their true potential and come up with better fragments of work. On the other hand, it also makes the country artistically strong. For example, we all know about the city of Florence, because of the famous artist Leonardo da Vinci, and we also know about Mumbai, because of the numerous actors who work there. Being artistically strong increases the average cultural quotient of the entire country, and hence, by the government playing a role in funding the arts, it is also helping the country to prosper in a positive way.
Another example would be the cottage industries. These small scale industries often have a large potential in areas that are slowly waning out due to the modernization and industrialization occurring globally. The positive thing in the entire situation is we already have live examples in our country to see how government funding is actually helpful. The government has separate awards for people who are distinguished in their respective genres. In other cases, governments have promoted art exhibitions, music competitions, and many such events which have helped us recognize the various forms of art that exist in our country. Reality shows are a very big testimony to this.
To conclude, I would say that government funding of the arts helps artists grow better and produce more qualitative work, which in turn ensures that the various forms of art, be it painting, music, dance, pottery, plays, acting, movies, documentaries and so on, are better known and also available to people in the country, so that we can be aware of our cultural backgrounds; and that it will not threaten the integrity of the arts as long as we do not take it for granted, and let our avarice overcome our will to work hard.