Crafting a new government mission for funding the arts

Posted on: August 12, 2009

Wednesday (8/12) on Bloomberg.com, Jeremy Gerard comments on remarks made by Rocco Landesman, the newly confirmed head of the National Endowment for the Arts. “The new chairman hadn’t even moved into his Pennsylvania Avenue digs when he told the New York Times’s Robin Pogrebin, in an article that appeared Saturday, that he will ‘focus on the potential of the arts to help in the country’s economic recovery.’ … He told the Times that he has a new slogan for the agency: ‘Art Works.’ The phrase, he said, is ‘something muscular that says, We matter.’ As in: We matter ‘as an economic driver,’ the Times explained. … If that’s the criterion for funding, however, the NEA should just support the Broadway producers and movie studios that employ the most people and sell the most tickets. … Market-driven culture is all well and good, but it’s not what John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had in mind when they laid the groundwork for a federal agency dedicated to the arts. They supported creativity that isn’t beholden to a bottom line. … So here’s a different strategy for the arts endowment. Take a leaf from the Broadway producers’ playbook. Create a public- private alliance to fund the NEA so it can really begin making the arts central to the lives of all Americans.”

Posted August 12, 2009