there are three stories this week that have attracted most of my non-school attention: the passing of the Coburn amendment and the complete disrespect of artists that surrounded it, the announcing of the Helen Hayes Nominations and the Israeli election.
I find that I’m not the only one pissed of and saddened by the idea that people don’t think about artists or those who work alongside them as being real people with real jobs who have a real effect of the economy. (BTW. Today is the day to tell your senator or congressman what you think if you haven’t yet, do so here). Here are some other voices:
So why has funding for the arts become a punching bag for those who oppose economic stimulus? One can only conclude that it speaks not only to their philistine values, but to the desperate nature of their attempts to discredit the new president’s first legislative initiative, and to the complete lack of substantive analysis that they bring to their arguments against the initiative. Center for American Progress
The arts play a keen role in stimulating the economy no matter how you look it, or whether you like the arts or not. Groups like Americans for the Arts, the National Governor’s Association, US Conference of Mayors, have done their economic homework. There is empirical and significant evidence that the arts bolster the economy. In singling out the arts, Coburn is not making a logical or economic statement. Instead, he and his colleagues are promoting a notion that the arts are frivolous. Nothing could be further from the truth in terms of economic impact as well as the importance of the arts to our cultural identity and history. The arts are a field discriminated against and an easy target when times get tough. Of course, the arts are also what individuals and communities rely on in these exact same tough times. ARTSBLOG
Beyond the finances, though, investing in the arts during these tough times can ensure that America doesn’t lose a generation of creative talent to our temporary economic woes. Somewhere in America today, there are individuals with the potential of Orson Welles and the artistic gifts of Mark Rothko. It is foolhardy to attempt to save our economy by ignoring our talent. Huffington Post
Dana Gioia, a poet who was NEA chairman until last month, recalled that when top Roosevelt aide Harry Hopkins was asked why the government wanted to hire so many artists and writers, he replied, “Hell, they’ve got to eat just like other people.”
Gioia, reflecting on that comment, said, “As far as I’ve heard, nothing has changed about the dietary needs of artists.” The Boston Globe
Economic stimulus is dependent on the human spirit. The arts create confidence and self-worth, and those qualities in turn foster fiscal activity. The arts build neighborhoods and can help stem the decline in property values. The current recession is most devastating in inner cities, precisely where the arts are at their best.
Artists deserve to be held accountable by anybody paying their bills. And in a job-stimulus package, money given to the arts should go directly to the creation of artistic jobs. But those jobs, and those workers, are just as important as those who pour concrete.
The arts are not, ipso facto, cheap pork. They are education. Health care. And they make up an American infrastructure of a different, more important, kind. The Chicago Tribune
At Parabisis Isaac Butler has a plan: Don’t Mourn, Organize
At Culturebot there are some numbers from Americans for the Arts.
Next, on to the Israeli election. I usually get frustrated and confused while trying to understand exactly how the Israeli political system works. It seems clear to me though that this election is an important one and Israel is standing on the brink of something which will probably not be at all positive. Here are a few articles I found helpful provocative and interesting.
And then on a semi-brighter note, the Helen Hayes Nominations were announced. The good news is the cast of Forum’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot were nominated for best ensemble and Theater J got 3 nominations two for The Price and best new play for Honey Brown Eyes. The bad new is the list is just boring. The judges were really into Shakespeare this year with his plays taking up over half of the best play category alongside Shaw, really Major Barbara was okay it was not best play of the year good, they just had pertty sets and costumes and decent acting. It was BBC on stage it was not theatrical. sigh. There is one newer play in the best play category though I’m guessing the award will go to our make mr. shakes. There were also a number of actors who were really deprived of individual awards. In today’s Backstage column Jane does her annual roundup of what has been looked over, reminding me of Kimberly Gilberts awesome job with K of D, yes, she should totally have been nominated. And though I’m super happy about Forum’s ensemble nomination, the ensemble category is unwieldy and encompasses almost every actor in DC, which in some cases is exciting (I’m also super happy the cast of Rep Stage’s In the Heart of America didn’t get overlooked) but on a whole seems rather ridiculous. It’s like the judges thought, well, I can’t give them any bigger nods because you know they aren’t Shakespeare (though a couple of them are and did get bigger nods), and none of them have won HH awards before so they don’t deserve it by legacy, hmm, I’ll just lump them altogether into best ensemble that will be nice. And to end with more good news, the award for Outstanding Emerging Theater Company is going to Constellation Theatre Company. Let by Allison Stockman they have been doing amazing work and are well deserving. That alone is worth a celebration.