There are so many other ways to lead a successful and meaningful life that are not denominated by money or fame. Adult life begins in a child's imagination, and we've relinquished that imagination to the marketplace...
Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world--equal to but distinct from scientific and conceptual methods. Art addresses us in the fullness of our being--simultaneously speaking to our intellect, emotions, intuition, imagination, memory and physical senses. There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories or songs or images.
Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions. And it remembers. As Robert Frost once said about poetry, "It is a way of remembering that which it would impoverish us to forget." Art awakens, enlarges, refines and restores our humanity.
If it is necessary to have a National Endowment for the Arts, then it should be necessary to have it headed up by the Dana Gioia's of the world. Take a couple of minutes to read this.