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The goal of this paper is to investigate how the Untied States federal government, specifically through the National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA, has acted in the position of an arts patron in the past few decades. Specifically, this paper will focus on the past decade and a half since the 'arts crisis' of the late 1980s and the social and political backlash against the art community in the 1990s, which was only against ‘offensive’ art that was seen as morally and culturally corruptive. I explore the political, social, and economic forms the backlash took, particularly rooted in a perceived fear of degenerative arts as a corruption of and a catalyst for the eventual collapse of American culture and values. Additionally, I analyse the role the federal government played in ‘ameliorating’ the situation. I investigate how state arts patronage has affected and continues to affect both the concepts behind and the manifestations of art, as well as who is encouraged, sanctioned, or neglected in the production of art. To accomplish this, I explore how and why the federal government employs the arts to define and redefine morality and culture, and how does it express/allow the expressions of these through art.


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