Those arts education programmes add huge budget lines to cultural institutions that could be spent on acquisitions, expanded concert seasons, and new productions. I've written those grants in my time.
The comment about just a "sprinkling" of exposure supports my point: the arts institutions are being asked to do a job that really isn't their job. That's why the old "a great nation deserves great art" approach was a far better one.
You do the nation a disservice by NOT stewarding great art and making it available to those who are interested, and then you let the population sort itself out. It was always a self-selected population, but at least funders knew that that was part of the picture and cities and nations still should steward the art and make it available to those who cared.
The idea that the Met Museum or the National Gallery or American Ballet Theatre or the Royal Opera House or the Chicago Symphony are there to act as culture parents and spend exorbitant amounts of time, staffing, and funds to coax, beg, and plead their case to a population amongst which 95% would never be interested, anyway, is the root of the problem.
You fund the arts because they mark out a civilisation that did something besides plunder, sprawl, go to war, and kick balls across fields. It's the funders I'm angry at.
Today, the orchestra seeking support for its new season can't get funded unless it can demonstrate why exposure to the Jupiter Symphony will enrich a 14 year old's life, broaden his perspective, and help raise his "core" skills of critical thinking and literacy.
Yes: I kid you not. I've written those grants and had to use those phrases. Cultural institutions supported all kinds of studies that, surprise, showed that "involvement with art" raised students' critical thinking, problem-solving, and literacy skills. There were holes big enough to drive lorries through in those studies, but they're quoted all the time in grants.
Then, of course, the grantees have to figure out some sort of "metrics" to demonstrate the beneficial impact of "the arts" on the young, which ignores the glaring fact that one of art's fundamental attractions is that it isn't measurable.
"Metrics" was the other big word that came into the philanthropic sector 20 or so years ago.
God forbid music and art institutions should get funding because they are stewarding the best that humanity has to give, and holds up a mirror that shows us for once something besides a species relentlessly cruel, stupid, selfish, short-sighted, carnal, doomed to live a short life and die. I mean, really, why fund that?!
Art may indeed broaden perspectives, enrich lives, and even raise one or two kids' core academic skills occasionally - BUT THAT ISN'T WHY GREAT ART EXISTS.
Trying to discover a practical "purpose" for art undermines the very quality that is its central attraction: it is unseizable, and magical precisely because of its defiant unseizability. It comes out of a cauldron, not a nicely wrapped Cadbury's Easter Egg Assortment box. In fact, Mozart's work, like that of so many other of the giants of art in all forms, are amongst the most subversive things in the world.
I'm sorry to rant on about this, but it broke my heart to see one of the most mysterious and subversive and precious things we have finally also commandeered by the Commentariat and the sociopolitical agenda-driven elites, and it enrages me that the arts institutions, instead of putting up a fight for art's right to exist in and of itself, let them do it.
It's more than just a surrounding culture of short attention spans and self-referentiality - If the fucking Arts Council in England and the NEA in America don't revere art and fund art for its own sake, why expect the hoi polloi to feel differently?
As above so below. The fish rots from the head down.