Sunday, February 20, 2011

The NEA pt. 5: Excellence

Scott Walters is wondering about the NEA's definition of "excellence":
The NEA regularly asserts that its primary criterion for awarding grants is "excellence," and the citizens of the arts world nod in agreement. The peer review panels are instructed to search for excellence in each and every grant proposal, and they do so with confidence that they will recognize that particular quality in each and every variety and permutation, and award pots of money accordingly.
He spends the rest of the post wondering about that definition. Go and read it. But I have a tangential question: are any other fields' subsidies (of which there are many) related to "excellence"? Farm subsidies aren't. Oil subsidies certainly aren't. I'm sure some are, but I am curious about when we subsidize "the best" and when we subsidize all who meet a certain class (more like film subsidies).