Saturday, May 30, 2009

The NEA, NRO, and WHO-SICE II

In the comments section of <100k, Chris Ashworth says:

Moreover, I find myself increasingly uninterested in duking it out over the NEA. (Jotted down a few thoughts about this back in March.) The NEA fight feels like it’s burning a lot of energy that could be channeled much more efficiently into other, fresher ideas. Like, say, the <100K project.


To which I responded:

Indeed. Thinking about Beran's article, and Chris' response about whether we should care to reform the NEA, and I'm starting to wonder whether the NEA should keep it's top-down approach and WHO-SICE should take a bottom-up approach.

One model of supporting the arts (the one currently taken by a lot of arts communities) is helping to support the big, safe, consistent hitters. If you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, or consider the Public Broadcasting System, you see a big, old institution that has some degree of public contribution, to keep a historic institution alive. That's not a very progressive thing for government to be doing, but it isn't necessarily an unimportant one--a Caretaker of the Arts. An inherently conservative approach to arts support.

The other model is something like the <100k that works from the bottom up. The report on developing arts communities seemed to place a lot more emphasis on the bottom-up approach. A Small Business Administration for the Arts, an Arts Developer. An inherently progressive approach to arts support.

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