Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding

By Alice Goldfarb Marquis | Go to book overview

5
THE SORCERER'S
APPRENTICE

THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT for the Arts marked its first decade of existence with two days of festivities in 1974. On September 3, current and former council members, panel chairs, and guests partook of an informal meal and entertainment by grantees, staff, and past and present council members. The next day, the celebrants lunched with congresspeople at the Capitol and dined with more congresspeople and other dignitaries in the atrium of the Kennedy Center before attending a performance of David Merrick's show Mack and Mabel in the opera house. The commemoration actually came only nine years after the NEA's founding, so, the following year, the real anniversary was celebrated on September 29 and 30 at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas. In addition to the council, guests included Lady Bird Johnson, Senators Hubert Humphrey and Jacob Javits, Kirk Douglas, the artist Jamie Wyeth, and the operatic baritone Robert Merrill. The soprano Beverly Sills told the group, "Art is the signature of civilization." 1

Within just a decade, the endowment was swaddling its governing body in a patchwork of pious rhetoric, ritual, and light entertainment. Meanwhile, the council members' attendance at regular meetings had dropped drastically. All but one of the twenty-six members had attended the first meeting in April 1965. The council's thirty-ninth meeting, May 1-4, 1975, in Seattle, had attracted a bare majority of fourteen. But while twelve were absent from the council's table, the room was packed with nineteen panelists, thirty-two staff people and consultants, and eighteen guests. The

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Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Art Lessons - Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • 1 - Seventy-Six Trombones *
  • 2 - West Side Story *
  • 3 - A Man for All Seasons *
  • 4 - The Nutcracker *
  • 5 - The Sorcerer's Apprentice *
  • 6 - A Night at the Opera *
  • 7 - Flowers of Evil *
  • 8 - The Beggar's Opera *
  • Notes *
  • Index *
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