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New, no-nonsense NEA chief sounds good


Rocco Landesman, new NEA Chairman interviewed in yesterday’s NY TImes story by Robin Pogrebin takes no prisoners.  He calls the current NEA funding of $155 million “pathetic” and “embarrassing” and says he’ll be asking for more than incremental increases for the arts.  He sees the arts as an integral part of the economic recovery. And he will change the way grants are handed out, inserting criteria such as artistic merit where apparently now there are no merit requirements (the grants are handed out on a geographical basis, one grant per county).

Also, he’s in favor of re-instating the grants to individual artists program, something abolished by Congress in 1996. However, only Congress can re-instate the program, so he’ll have to work with Congress on that one so don’t hold your breath.

From the story:

The new chairman said he already has a new slogan for his agency: “Art Works.” It’s “something muscular that says, ‘We matter.’ ” The words are meant to highlight both art’s role as an economic driver and the fact that people who work in the arts are themselves a critical part of the economy.

And while you’re at the Times website don’t miss the big flashy ad from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.