Saturday, August 29, 2009

Obama's Tax-Funded Chorus

UPDATE: Courrielche refutes NEA denials with screen shots.

Earlier this month, I detailed the smug and appalling outcomes of the National Endowment for the Arts' $50 million finding increase. It turns out I underestimated the consequences, as Patrick Courrielche explains on Big Hollywood:
On Thursday August 6th, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts to attend a conference call scheduled for Monday August 10th hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve. The call would include "a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!" . . .

Backed by the full weight of President Barack Obama’s call to service and the institutional weight of the NEA, the conference call was billed as an opportunity for those in the art community to inspire service in four key categories, and at the top of the list were "health care" and "energy and environment." The service was to be attached to the President’s United We Serve campaign, a nationwide federal initiative to make service a way of life for all Americans.

It sounded, how should I phrase it. . .unusual, that the NEA would invite the art community to a meeting to discuss issues currently under vehement national debate. I decided to call in, and what I heard concerned me.

The people running the conference call and rallying the group to get active on these issues were Yosi Sergant, the Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts; Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Nell Abernathy, Director of Outreach for United We Serve; Thomas Bates, Vice President of Civic Engagement for Rock the Vote; and Michael Skolnik, Political Director for Russell Simmons.

We were encouraged to bring the same sense of enthusiasm to these "focus areas" as we had brought to Obama’s presidential campaign, and we were encouraged to create art and art initiatives that brought awareness to these issues. Throughout the conversation, we were reminded of our ability as artists and art professionals to "shape the lives" of those around us. The now famous Obama "Hope" poster, created by artist Shepard Fairey and promoted by many of those on the phone call, and’s "Yes We Can" song and music video were presented as shining examples of our group’s clear role in the election.

Obama has a strong arts agenda, we were told, and has been very supportive of both using and supporting the arts in creative ways to talk about the issues facing the country. We were "selected for a reason," they told us. We had played a key role in the election and now Obama was putting out the call of service to help create change. We knew "how to make a stink," and were encouraged to do so. . .

Discussed throughout the conference call was a hope that this group would be one that would carry on past the United We Serve campaign to support the President’s initiatives and those issues for which the group was passionate. The making of a machine appeared to be in its infancy, initiated by the NEA, to corral artists to address specific issues.

This function was not the original intention for creating the National Endowment for the Arts.

A machine that the NEA helped to create could potentially be wielded by the state to push policy. Through providing guidelines to the art community on what topics to discuss and providing them a step-by-step instruction to apply their art form to these issues, the "nation’s largest annual funder of the arts" is attempting to direct imagery, songs, films, and literature that could create the illusion of a national consensus.
My thoughts: Conclusion: If fans of public art funding ignore such inappropriate White House influence, NEA loses any link with elevating mankind and turns purely political--less defensible than any bailout. And those seeking subsidies by coloring-in Presidential preferences aren't artists, or cultural, at all--thus ineligible for NEA support.

(via The Corner)


A_Nonny_Mouse said...

So if if the NEA goes alongwith the White House push, it would be "indefensible"?

IMHO, the MSM's constant toadying to the Current Administration is also indefensible. So? There's hardly any notice taken, much less outrage.

"Outrage" is reserved for those who support meritocracy. Those who support forced egalitarianism are lionized in our current political climate.

Looks like the USA and our idea of individual rights and individual responsibilities was a "great experiment" that failed. As long as over 50% of our electorate claim the "rights" but decline the "responsibilities", the Nanny State has a green light to plunder the wealth of producers in order to secure the votes of the non-producers (at least until they "run out of other people's money", at which point history is REALLY going to get interesting...)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

During the 2000 campaign a crudely-drawn cartoon circulated to me. It showed Al Gore standing over a row of people, bent over and tied to a bed. They were marked "Unions," "Feminists," etc. Bill Clinton was entering the door, waving his hands. The caption read "No, no, Al! If you promise to marry them and leave presents, you don't have to tie them up."

"Artists" were in the row.

Carl said...


What makes this worse is that -- unless Dan Rather prevails -- the mainstream media isn't taxpayer funded, unlike NEA. But otherwise, I agree.


Funny. Especially as Obama seems to be trying both approaches.