WWJD? No, the Other One: Jabbar
Last Friday, the LA Times posted a blog entry that did everything a news organization's blog entry should. It was simple, informative, interactive, controversial, featured exclusive content and was fun besides. Best of all, it didn't come out of the sports or business section. The post, which asked 30 comedians, personalities, artists and blowhards to tell them how it would be "If I ran the NEA," was posted on the paper's arts blog, Culture Monster.
Some--the blowhards, naturally--want to shut the beleaguered organization down, period. The comedians are mostly cavalier. Kareem Abdul Jabbar calls for a resumption of WPA-style programs. Tim Miller, Edward Albee, and Bill Pullman are a few of those who want a resumption of funding to individual artists. Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen want it to shore up arts education in public schools. Rachel Maddow wants to take the NEA one step farther and ensure the arts light the corners of our most profitable government institutions--prisons. And Harvey Weinstein? Well, he just wants a New York-based Cinema Hall of Fame.
Me? I'd cut back on the Shakespeare and ramp up educational programs highlighting American playwrights. I love me some Will, but I also love me some Williams, not to mention Wilson, and I'm betting students would too, if they were ever fed anything besides a steady diet of Elizabethan-style government cheese. I'd also make sure those critic training programs (the most recent of which just announced its 2009 fellows in theater and musical theater) maintain or increase their funding, because better critics mean better public advocates for the arts, and I probably don't have to tell you what that means to us all, especially now.
Check out what they have to say over at Culture Monster (In a handy coincidence, they currently have the latest NEA news posted) then come on back and tell me: If you ran the NEA, what would you do?