Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, sparked controversy with remarks he made last month about declining attendance at theaters. His glib pronouncement was that there are too many theaters. He was likely referring to his dilemma as to whether the NEA could have more positive impact by making larger grants to fewer organizations, or continuing to fund a wide range of smaller, struggling projects. Also, he is said to have a taste for the publicity generated by a hot potato.
Now we must address threats to funding in earnest. Yesterday, President Obama released his budget request for fiscal 2012. The $146.2 million earmarked for the NEA represents a cut of $21 million from 2010. Other cultural and arts organizations will also receive reductions under the proposed budget. Congress debates the budget this week and there is every likelihood that further cuts will be discussed.
Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has created a very user-friendly online tool to assist voters to contact their legislators regarding these cuts. I used it and it took about two minutes to voice my opinion to my senators and representative.