Advertisement

If I ran the NEA

March 01, 2009

ANN COULTER / AUTHOR OF "GUILTY: LIBERAL 'VICTIMS' AND THEIR ASSAULT ON AMERICA"

I always wanted to run the NEA so I could fund only tacky bourgeois art, such as Precious Moments figurines, thimble collections, dogs playing poker, velvet Elvis paintings, "Scarface" mirrors from the gift shops by the beach, etc. I'd have a major retrospective on Norman Rockwell paintings and make Thomas Kinkade our painter laureate.

My plan was to so enrage liberals and other half-brights with status anxiety that they would finally join with conservatives in demanding the abolition of that ridiculous agency. Unfortunately, it now appears that I would be heralded as a curating genius. The highest priced living (con)artist ever, Jeff Koons, is famous for exactly the Precious Moments kitsch I would have funded for the express purpose of bringing the NEA into disrepute (see www.jeffkoons.com/site/index.html) and the Guggenheim has already hosted a Norman Rockwell retrospective (see pastexhibitions.guggenheim.org/rockwell/).

--

BILL T. JONES / CHOREOGRAPHER

It's common knowledge now that the arts are a significant part of our economic engine and a powerful tool for global diplomacy. As the head of the NEA, I would lobby to create a Cabinet post for the arts. We must move past this notion that the arts and culture are somehow frivolous.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, March 01, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
The NEA: In today's Arts & Books section, the cover story "If I ran the NEA" says the National Endowment for the Arts riled opponents in 1996 with its plan to award grants to four controversial artists. In fact, the artists known as the NEA Four fought for their grants in 1990.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, March 08, 2009 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part D Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
The NEA: The article "If I Ran the NEA" last Sunday said the National Endowment for the Arts riled opponents in 1996 with its plan to award grants to four controversial artists. The artists known as the NEA Four fought for their grants in 1990.

--

DAVID ROBERTSON / MUSIC DIRECTOR, ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

I would first see about increasing its budget by two- or fourfold, because while art often contains an element of entertainment, it also -- always -- contains a large component that has to do with searching. So, for me, the National Endowment for the Arts resembles nothing so much as an endowment for research. Artists of all sorts are often following leads that may go nowhere or may discover something that is right before us, but without their exploration something that is in our midst might never be discovered.

--

JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY / WRITER-DIRECTOR

If I ran the NEA, I would commission writers, musicians, photographers and painters to fan out across grass-roots America to answer two questions:

1. What does our country look like?

2. What do we want our country to look like?

--

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA / LYRICIST AND CREATOR OF "IN THE HEIGHTS"

I'd work to make music education a mandatory component of every elementary and middle school curriculum in America. I was lucky to have a public school education with a strong music program, and it just about saved my life.

--

NEIL LaBUTE / WRITER-DIRECTOR

If I ran the NEA, I would immediately dismantle all "artist" grants (solely because I've never been offered one myself) and use that money to create more diverse arts programs for inner-city schools. Just kidding. I'd definitely dismantle the grants because, as mentioned above, the awarding of said grants is obviously rigged and in desperate need of restructuring. I would not use the extra money in schools, however, because most kids wouldn't know "art" if it marched up and slapped them in the face. I would instead implement and fund various initiatives to examine "the sex lives of insects cited in the works of Marlowe and Shakespeare" and collect "recipe tips from noted female writers -- Aphra Behn to Naomi Wallace." Now that's money well spent on worthwhile projects -- just like my esteemed predecessors used to do.

I would also support a number of dance programs because, let's face it, dance gets the short end of the stick in the arts, yet it's really fun to watch and people often get naked. I like music too, so I would make sure money gets funneled off to a variety of regional orchestras and that sort of thing. Plus, I'd also underwrite big concerts in the park like Elton John and Simon & Garfunkel used to give. I'm sure Sting would be up for it -- promise him that he's saving a forest somewhere, and that guy will play bare-chested for hours.

And lastly I would fund theater like crazy. Every project you can think of, from crowd-pleasing ideas like more and more musicals based on pop tunes (maybe something using the music of ABBA) to more inspired but experimental notions such as my all-Asian version of "Raisin in the Sun" (I'm off the all-white version now -- that was just stupid).

--

NOAH WYLE / ACTOR, ARTISTIC PRODUCER OF THE BLANK THEATRE COMPANY

If I were NEA chief, I would hope to remember this: While the "nonprofit" arts industry enriches the cultural aspects of our society, we are not a charity. We are businesses that give fantastic return on invested dollars. In 2005, we had 2.6 million full-time employees. We expended $63.1 billion and generated $6.3 billion in local and state taxes. Our work generated an additional $103 billion for local merchants and their communities (sustaining 3.1 million jobs and over $16 billion in local, state and federal taxes). I would tell everyone I meet to invest in us. We give great economic stimulus to every community where we work.

--

PHYLICIA RASHAD / ACTRESS

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|