CMU School of Drama

Thursday, March 09, 2017

An obituary: The National Endowment for the Arts, 52, of unnatural causes

TheHill: The National Endowment for the Arts, aged 52, has finally died. After brushes with extinction in the 1980’s and 1990’s, along with a three-decade wait to be launched after the McCarthy-era’s relentless attacks on artists, police are describing the NEA’s demise as “totally preventable, but oddly, both a homicide and a suicide.” The agency had been ill although determined to make a difference for many years.

3 comments:

Sasha Schwartz said...

“We are now the only country in the world without a federal arts presence”. This alone should make anyone who doesn’t think politics is important feel ashamed. My heart aches for all of the kids who will now grow up without any access to art programs because greedy Americans wanted to save a few measly cents on their tax dollars, a few cents that meant the difference between someone feeling lost and alone and having a place to go where they felt welcomed and appreciated, the difference between life and death even. Federally funded art programs meant art therapy for war victims and others with mental and or developmental disabilities. As the article says, even though many programs will still be able to survive without funding from the NEA, the death of the organization means so much less funding from privately owned organizations. This also means that the arts, which already aren’t seen as being important or valuable in the eyes of the average American, will continue to be disrespected.

Mark Ivachtchenko said...

It's shocking just how fast the NEA was strangled by the government under President Trump. Like Sasha stated, it's extremely depressing to see STEAM turn into a strict STEM, which should never be the ideal circumstance. I can't ever see mathematics and science worlds reaching their full potential without the arts and vice versa. The two work together and Carnegie Mellon has been a great symbol at proving that with movements like the construction of the Randy Pausch bridge in our front yard. I just don't understand how they can completely cut the arts like that and look at it as a pointless tumor in our society. The action seems unbelievable especially with all the research put into the arts that proves just how much of a positive effect it can have on productivity, creativity, test scores, attendance, and overall happiness. If the arts are there to convey messages, we're gonna have to send a tsunami in protect to these actions.

On a side note, I wonder how that NEA internship program is going go this year...

Lauren Miller said...

I love the use of satire to make a political statement. This is a very well written and timely article. And a large part of me is worried about the future of the NEA and other arts programs, as well as environmental protections and programs to help those in poverty, but the government in the past has sought to dismantle these programs before, and it was predominately artists who stopped it. So, we should be worried, and we should be outraged, but now is also the time to step up to the plate. In the early 1990s, the NEA lost most of its funding and was forced to stop helping projects which presented certain narratives (most noticeably, anything produced by or about the LGBT+ community). There is a really good article titled “Art Attack” available through the CMU library about this period of time. But the thing that stopped it was the arts community itself. One senator from then remarked that no “real people” where calling him – it was just artists. So pick up a phone and jam Toomey’s phone lines.