U.S. Sen. Rick Scott at one time resided in a mansion replete with some of the state’s most coveted artwork.
Paintings by a group of artists known as the Highwaymen adorned not only the governor’s mansion, but Scott’s office in the Capitol during the Republican’s eight-year tenure as Florida’s chief of state.
But as Washington, D.C., and much of the country was focused this week on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Scott castigated the federal government for “waste and misuse” of taxpayer funding for the arts.
“We all can support research and appreciate the arts, but the federal government spends $300 million a year on arts and humanities, including funding expensive projects that don’t provide any return on investment for taxpayers,” the Republican senator said in a news release.
Scott pointed to culprits such as $25 million for the operation, maintenance and security of the Kennedy Center in Washington and a $7.25 million increase in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, which he said was the largest increase in a decade.
“These spending increases might be nice to have, but with $23 trillion in national debt, Congress needs to make some tough choices,” Scott said.
Lissette Garcia Arrogante, a member of Americans for the Arts and Art Table who also served as a panelist for the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs community arts grants, has a different view.
“Investment in arts is transformative and the return on investment is very real. Government funded programs are essential for an inclusive and diverse citizenry and increased access to the arts expands opportunity and improves quality of life,” Arrogante said in an email when asked about Scott’s statements.
“But don’t take my word for it, study after study shows the return on government investment in the arts in schools, in cities and even in the military results in higher civic engagement, stronger community and it lowers crime and poverty rates,” she added.