This (from Jeff Chang @ Can't Stop Won't Stop)
Last night the 34-year old communications director at the National Endowment For The Arts was asked to resign. Why? Because he was trying to organize artists to support President Obama’s national service program, United We Serve. If your next question is: so what? That was ours too. But Glenn Beck compared the effort to “Nazi propaganda”.
(Just sick–especially since Sergant, a Jewish American, has worked as an activist for peace in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.)
This (from Ian Moss @ createquity, who happened to be a participant in one of the "Nazi" conference calls that had Beck so incensed):
The NEA “purportedly” wanted to commission art “within major areas of President Obama’s administration”? It would be kind of hilarious if it weren’t so disingenuous. As usual, Fox and facts don’t mix. For one thing, as far as I can tell, the NEA as an agency has no official role in the initiative whatsoever. Their logo is not on the serve.artsusa.org website; it is mentioned nowhere on the NEA’s website; and no one from the agency participated in the second conference call. Secondly, the push was not for artists to “create” work in line with Obama’s political agenda–the real push was to highlight work that artists are already doing that fits in with the overall United We Serve initiative. Finally, the push didn’t come from Obama–it came from artists: Sergant, and earlier, the group of 60 arts community activists who met with the administration in May and asked to get more involved. If there is a political agenda, it is perhaps that in involving artists explicitly in an initiative of this magnitude, maybe it will help build the arts’ public profile and help convince Congress to move this country’s level of federal arts support a notch upward from “laughably miniscule” to “embarrassingly paltry.” That’s all there is to it. Well, unless you believe that getting out of the house and helping people who are less fortunate than you is a partisan political act. Sadly, this conservative movement seems to believe that caring about anyone who isn’t yourself or directly related to you is something to condemn.
This (from 99 Seats):
The consevative wing of this country and the GOP have made it their life's work to minimize the role of arts in public life. They have spent twenty-five years teeing off on the NEA, gutting it, in an effort to, as Grover Norquist says, make it small enough to drown in a bathtub. They do not have the best interests of artists in mind. Not to mention the fact that, if you read something about govermental overreach by the Obama Administration, double-check those facts. And then triple-check them. You're dealing with a bunch of liars. So there's that, to begin with.
And, as I said here, you're just reinforcing this notion that art shouldn't address real-world issues, shouldn't be involved in advocacy or the public sphere. Which just makes us all the more useless. Again, as I've already said, I'm against the notion of government-sponsored propaganda, but that wasn't what anyone was talking about here, except lunatics. You wanna listen to lunatics?
And, finally, this (from Isacc Butler @ Parabasis):
On some level, it's never going to be worth it to an American administration to stick up for the arts. There's always going to be "something more important" that we need to "move beyond this issue to address". This is going to be particularly true with the Obama administration because Obama has made it extremely clear that he's a very ambitious President w/r/t public policy. In one year, he was hoping to tackle a bailout, financial regulations, cap and trade, a stimulus package and health care reform. Two of those big ticket issues (the regulations and cap and trade) have been moved at least until next year and probably won't get taken up until after the mid-term elections.
This state of affairs w/r/t the arts is upsetting to me, and disappointing. And like 99, I'm pretty fucking pissed off. But being from the "Don't mourn, organize" school of thinking, my mind immediately goes to: It's going to take a lot work on our part to make sure the arts aren't just a convenient and controversial horse to trade. Or if they are, if that's going to be the arts' role in the legislative process, we need to get something out of it in return.
In the meantime, if this issue pisses you off, write a letter. A real one. You probably know the address already, but in case you don't it's:The White HouseAccording to the website, they want you to include your e-mail address with your letter.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Wasington, D.C. 20500