Reading: Reread pages 62 through 65 regarding the Mapplethorpe trial and the NEA's Arts in Public Places program.
NEWS FLASH!! The House backed a Republican effort to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts, branded by conservatives as an elite group that bankrolls immoral art. By one vote, the House cleared the way for a vote to replace the NEA, which distributes grants for the arts, with block grants to school districts and state arts councils. Some Democrats say they expect the White House and the Senate will save the agency that they say is essential for bringing art to smaller communities and poor areas.
Premise: The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have all been under attack by various members of congress for the past seven years. Leading the charge is former Rep. Newt Gingrich. Mr. Gingrich, like many congressional leaders (and many citizens)believes that taxpayer money should not be used to support artists, exhibitions or public and private performances by dance and theatre groups, programs that bring visual and performing artists into schools or rural areas, or works of art in public places.
In 1994, shortly after he became Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Gingrich began to outline some of his opinions regarding "cultural" funding in early speeches and interviews. During a December 30, 1994, interview by Brian Lamb of C-SPAN, former Rep. Gingrich stated the basic points to his position, including the suggestion that most government funded art is "elitist," and should be funded by the private sector, as well as the suggestion that some funded artists have created works that are obscene or sacrilegious.
Although Mr. Gingrich is no longer a member of the House of Representatives, he started a battle that his like-minded colleagues are continuing to wage even today. In the August 7, 1995 issue of TIME® Magazine, senior writer Robert Hughes presented a nine-page article"Pulling the Fuse on Culture," one of the most comprehensive and compassionate arguments in favor of government funding of the arts. Hughes, a scholarly writer and respected art historian, who's major works include Shock of the New and American Visions, presented a persuasive argument against the Republican attack on "cultural funding." Mr. Hughes' article identified Rep. Gingrich and several other conservative GOP and religious leaders as those who have led the charge for the abolishment of the NEA, NEH, and CPB.
Time required to do this project: The time is variable and dependent upon how much you wish to say!
How to start: If you feel strongly one way or the other, you should let your congressional leaders know. There are many points to this issue. Are the arts important to us? Should the American taxpayer support cultural funding? Read the opinions stated by Mr. Hughes and former Rep. Gingrich, and state your case.
While this could be a project that an instructor might like to have you return for grading, I would encourage you to take it a step further! Tell your congressional leaders! Visit the home page for the U.S. Congress
(http://www.congress.org/) and under the section "Elected Officials" click on "U.S. Congress." Search by a variety of criteria to contact your representative by email address, phone number, or fax.