It was recently announced that the National Endowment for the Arts will be renaming its “Arts on Television and Radio” program “Arts in Media.” The new program will include grants for video-game creators, as well as for artists who create mobile and interactive platforms. This is tantamount to federal recognition of video games as “art,” and the new program’s new open-ended name leaves room for further redefinition.
The legal definitions of “art” have been formulated in the context of the Copyright Act and First Amendment protections of speech. Should Congress be able to include video-games and other media arts within the Federally recognized parameters of “art”? Does the public even consider video games and other media works to be “art”? Although the public’s understanding of “art” is constantly, notoriously in flux, it is difficult to determine when federal institutions should follow the crowd.
The NEA is an independent federal agency, and Congress controls its annual budget. NEA grant money comes from federal tax money, and thus NEA activity is susceptible to public challenge. The public may question whether or not the NEA should be allotting scarce funds to the video game industry in times of troublesome budget cuts in the arts. However, this criticism seems hard to mount when NEA grants must, as ArtInfo points out, focus on supporting “works which will enhance the public good.” Win.
Read more at ArtInfo