National Endowment for the Arts
A new study analyzed the claim that the NEA only serves the upper crust of society.
Empowered to endow in more ways than one, the National Endowment for the Arts did its job of bestowing prestige at a lavish event at Jazz at Lincoln Center this past week in honor of five musicians named as NEA Jazz Masters: the drummer Jack DeJohnette, the saxophonist Von Freeman, the bassist Charlie Haden, the singer Sheila Jordan, and the trumpeter Jimmy Owens.
The arts are not efficient. They are essential. That is something entirely different. Culture, in order to be vital, must be extravagant. At times there is fiscal extravagance. Inevitably, there is the extravagance of lives dedicated to what are the inherently impractical disciplines of art, literature, music, dance, and theater. There is no art—there is no culture—without enormous individual energies being expended to what are, by their very nature, uncertain ends. I once heard a famous poet, when asked how his work was going, shrug and say: “You just put in your oar.
Last week, the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee released a series of proposed spending cuts that would eliminate or near-eliminate a host of government programs: Among the items the group proposes to eliminate or decimate: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Title X birth control and family planning, AmeriCorps, the Energy Star program and work on fuel efficient cars, and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Notice anything missing from that list?
It's not very often you see a political party shoot itself in the foot by nominating an obviously terrible candidate when better alternatives are available. One exception is the Illinois Democrats, who turned what should be a safe seat into a competitive one by nominating Alex Giannoulias, whose family bank went under, for Senate. (Giannoulias hilariously said he would answer questions about the bank only after the primary, and Democratic voters even more hilariously decided to nominate him anyway.) But the nomination of Republican Sharron Angle for Senate in Nevada stands on its own.
Paolo Veronese: The Petrobelli Altarpiece Blanton Museum of Art Combine a mystery and a masterpiece and what do you have? You have “Paolo Veronese: The Petrobelli Altarpiece,” a small, perfectly focused exhibition recently at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin.
The closest thing Congress has to its own Tea Party takes place every Wednesday afternoon, in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office building.
One of the most familiar rituals in George W. Bush’s Washington is the fantasizing that accompanies the president’s annual budget. The ritual goes something like this: Bush announces plans to cut a variety of domestic spending programs. Conservatives cheer the spirit of the cuts—even as they worry that they could be tough to implement or that they aren’t ambitious enough. Then, during the budget process, most of these cuts are restored—except those that affect the poor. And those cuts are too small to have any practical effect on the deficit.
President Clinton is a paragon of bipartisanship and cooperation, at least when it comes to negotiating with Congress over hundreds of billions of dollars worth of taxes and expenditures. But when the topic is the National Endowment for the Arts, which faces another Republican assassination attempt this month, Clinton turns into a determined, almost Churchillian figure. Though House Republicans have repeatedly voted to abolish the agency, Clinton has refused to meet them halfway.