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Grants



I guess I've been around too long, but I worry about government grants to=
 the=0Aarts. Indigo Som mentioned three countries that have government su=
pport for=0Athe arts, but I'm hard pressed to think of any subsidized art=
ist from these=0Acountries that have made significant contributions to th=
e arts. England,=0Athrough supporting art schools, has produced David Hoc=
kney, Francis Bacon, and=0ALucien Freud, to name some major contemporary =
artists that come to mind, but=0Athese three all managed to make a living=
 after leaving school, without=0Agovernment support. The Netherlands has =
employed some terrific graphic=0Adesigners for government work (look at t=
heir paper money!) but I don't think=0Athat counts as a grant. I draw a t=
otal blank on Canada although I'm sure some=0Agreat work is being done th=
ere & would really like to know more about the=0Aindigenous arts there, g=
overnment supported or not.

Another concern I have about grants I find more worrisome: who decides wh=
o=0Agets a grant? Those sitting on granting bodies, some of whom are arti=
sts, are=0Afamiliar with the field(s) in which they give grants. But if t=
hey are familiar=0Awith the work of only some people in these fields, are=
 these grantors totally=0Ainformed? Can any granting body be totally info=
rmed? This ties in to our=0Arecent thread about exhibits & galleries sinc=
e these are some of the places=0Athe grantors in the visual arts learn ab=
out what's happening in their fields.=0AAnd what about areas in which the=
y have little or no expertise, like say, uh,=0Athe book arts. Let's see, =
the late Adrian Wilson got a MacArthur, as did=0AClaire Van Vleit, but th=
at's a privately funded grant (with absolutely no=0Astrings attached) and=
 the selection process is rather different than that of=0Athe NEA. (I apo=
logize to anyone on this knowledgeable list who sits on a=0Agovernment gr=
ants board=97you obviously know about the subject and make your=0Aawards =
accordingly.)

Recent cuts in the NEA have been a direct result of the displeasure of=0A=
Congress with the work of a minuscule few artists, including one who neve=
r=0Areceived a penny of federal money (Robert Mapplethorpe) and this is p=
erhaps=0Athe most dangerous thing about reliance on government grants (we=
lfare for=0Aartists, some have called it). How independent can an artist =
be who relies on=0Amoney from a government? Historically, all artists hav=
e had patrons, and they=0Ahave produced to please their patron, be it the=
 Church, a royal court, or the=0Ageneral public. However, in all these in=
stances artists have also had an=0Aopportunity to mold the tastes of thei=
r patron/audience. I don't see that=0Ahappening with Congress.

R. Williams=0A


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