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Re: [BKARTS] Subject: Re: [BKARTS] Secretary of Arts Petition



Don't be seduced by a popular movie star! Makes for good press, but the real work is not done on this level.

I used to watch while the NEA-NEH appropriation process occurred in the house of Representatives and the Senate. Congresswoman Julia Butler Hanson (Oregon) and (recently deceased) Senator Claiborne Pell (Rhode Island) were more effective than all of the Mercouris and Pavorottis and Paul Newmans combined in practical, successful advocacy for both the arts and the humanities. We will get a sense of Obama's attitude toward the arts (and humanities) when he appoints the chairmen of the two endowments. And then we will see how the Congress supports them. (Lynn Cheney and William Bennett were Ronald Reagan's appointments as chairmen of the NEH and they were, in my opinion, disasters!) But, let's face it, for better or worse, we are a republic with democratically-elected governors who have considerable, but not total, influence on how things are supported or not.

From the outside, it may not appear that this executive branch federal joint-agency is involved in advocacy for the arts (everybody seems to know what the arts are) and the humanities (always a hard definition to get the public to understand) in most of their manifestations , but that is exactly what they do. They deal in the realm of the possible, of the politically feasible and have done a more or less good job depending on the philosophy and support of the administration and congress in power at the time. And judging from Paul Werner's video of the manifestation in Paris, maybe it's better to be a little under the radar. You may remember the flap the NEA got into for support Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer some years ago.

I spent four years in government service and recommend it to everybody who wants to get a realistic understanding of how the government works. I am more than impatient with criticism from all sides of how unresponsive government is, how wasteful, how insensitive. It's damned complicated and it takes tremendous work and support from many, many sources and the input of many points of view to come to policy decisions. And, she says immodestly, there are thousands of talented, dedicated and hard-working individuals doing at valuable work all the time. Like anything else, there are also the other kind.

Signa Houghteling



Helene Whitson wrote:
HI, Paul!

No, I don't want a "cultural industrial-complex" at all!  I wasn't thinking
of this person as a head of a group of agencies and sub-agencies.  I was
thinking more of someone like the great Greek actress, Melina Mercouri, who
was appointed the Greek Minister of Culture, and who acted more as an
awareness-bringer of arts issues to both the Executive and Legislative
branches of our government.  She fought passionately for the arts and had
the stature to bring issues directly to those who could do something about
them.

Cheers,
Helene


Dear Helene:

You make a substantial case for the "cultural industrial-complex," the large
interest group of arts administrators, trustees of not-for-profits, etc, such
as the wife of the CEO of Lehman Brothers, Kathy Fuld, who sits on the Board
of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art.

My question remains: "In what manner and in what degree would a Secretary for
the Arts benefit Mrs. Fuld and friends any better or more efficiently than the
Secretary of the Treasury? And to what degree would a Secretary of the Arts
(as opposed to the present Cabinet), impede or encourage a fair distribution
of Government funds to those who most need them, your group included?"

Paul Werner, New York
http://theorangepress.com

WOID: A journal of visual language
THE ORANGE PRESS, publishing "Vellum Preparation: History and Technique"
DRAGONSBLOOD AND ASHES, a project to research and practice the techniques of
the medieval scribe

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************************************************* Helene Whitson President, San Francisco Lyric Chorus Co-Author, San Francisco Bay Area Chorus Directory Founder, San Francisco Bay Area Choral Archive 1824 Arch Street Berkeley, California 94709 510-849-4689 hwhitson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx http://www.choralarchive.org http://www.sflc.org

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