When the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington canceled the Mapplethorpe show last month, hoping to avoid a political controversy, the move only heightened the controversy. Subsequently, the Washington Project for the Arts picked up the Mapplethorpe exhibit.
Both arts endowment staffers and congressmen supportive of NEA have worked in past weeks to defuse the controversy by offering proposals to change the endowment's procedure of allocating grants.
But Armey rejected the endowment staffers' proposal to re-emphasize standards of creative excellence in awarding endowment grants, and he was not dissuaded by the House Appropriations Committee's alteration of the endowment's process of awarding grants.
Spearheaded by Rep. Sidney Yates, (D-Ill.), the committee directed the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities to approve all grants allocated by intermediary organizations, which receive large blocks of federal funds to parcel out to individual recipients.
Currently, the intermediary organizations can award grants without prior approval from the main organization. Armey responded through a spokesman that the measure was "constructive," but "we still have a way to go in addressing a solution."
On July 8, Bush appointed John E. Frohnmayer as chairman to the beleaguered organization, which has remained leaderless since February. The nomination requires Senate confirmation.