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

By Alice Goldfarb Marquis | Go to book overview

8
THE BEGGAR'S
OPERA

EVERY THREE MONTHS or so, the National Council on the Arts assembles for three busy days. The group that drifts into Washington these days is a faint shadow of that willful, outspoken, opinionated, and gifted band that shaped the infant NEA. Utterly self-confident, it brashly answered to the appellation: cultural czars. Not so its current heirs. Chastened by the Frohnmayer scandals, chided even by its congressional friends, ignored by a president who took well over a year to name the NEA chair, the current council seems resigned to its marginal role in Washington and in American culture as a whole. Unlike the distinguished membership of earlier years, only five current council members work principally as artists; of the rest, four are professors and fifteen are administrators, trustees, volunteers, or patrons.

Though intelligent and admirably balanced demographically, the council as a body does not command national attention or widespread respect for its members' lofty cultural achievements. Its meetings have also settled into a routine: a private one-day pre-meeting, ostensibly for reviewing grants, and two days of public sessions. The open sessions float through a ritual so bland that, much to the council's chagrin, few reporters occupy the press table; the awarding of as much as $80 million in grants receives just a few newspaper paragraphs. 1

In 1990, the independent commission had recommended that the council form multidisciplinary committees to evaluate panel recommendations and that willingness to work on these committees be a condition for

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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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