Archive for August, 2009

New NEA Chair; Exit the Dark Ages…maybe

August 8, 2009

Rocco Landesman was sworn in as the new chairperson of the NEA last week and has already begun speaking about the changes he anticipates for the Endowment in an interview with the Times.

In discussing his plans, perhaps among Mr. Landesman most interesting–or controversial–is his intent to alter the allocation priorities for funding.  The present NEA allocation scheme evenly spreads funding around the country, by Congressional district, regardless of the concentration or quality of the projects in a given area.  In contrast, Mr. Landesman plans to allocate funds according to merit, and presumably by extension–providing more funding in areas where artists and arts organizations are concentrated.  In theory, this should bring more funding to the New York area, other cities, and areas where there are concentrations of artists.

The new Chair also speaks of reinstating individual grants, which would be a tremendous benefit for artists, particularly in these times.  Ultimately, the decision to bring back individual artist funding is a legislative issue.  So–artists–now is the time to write to your representatives about the importance of individual grants.

One point that Mr. Landesman makes through the Times piece concerns the denigration of the arts and artists in the society.  In contrast he mentions that, as a candidate, President Obama had both advisers and policies on the arts.  The implication of all of this is that the dark ages of support and funding for artists may be receding just a little, and perhaps, the societal perception of artists has a chance for progress as well.

New Endowment Chairman Sees Arts as Economic Engine, Robin Pogrebin

U.S. Congress, Write Your Representative:

U.S. Senate:

National Endowment for the Arts

Artifactum, May 12, 2009, Obama’s NEA Chair to be Announced