The NEA is being co-opted as a means of creating pro-Obama-program propaganda:
I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to take part in a conference call that invited a group of rising artist and art community luminaries “to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda – health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal.”
The call would include “a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!”
The people running the conference call and rallying the group to get active on these issues were Yosi Sergant, the Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts; Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Nell Abernathy, Director of Outreach for United We Serve; Thomas Bates, Vice President of Civic Engagement for Rock the Vote; and Michael Skolnik, Political Director for Russell Simmons.
We were encouraged to bring the same sense of enthusiasm to these “focus areas” as we had brought to Obama’s presidential campaign, and we were encouraged to create art and art initiatives that brought awareness to these issues. Throughout the conversation, we were reminded of our ability as artists and art professionals to “shape the lives” of those around us. The now famous Obama “Hope” poster, created by artist Shepard Fairey and promoted by many of those on the phone call, and will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” song and music video were presented as shining examples of our group’s clear role in the election.
Obama has a strong arts agenda, we were told, and has been very supportive of both using and supporting the arts in creative ways to talk about the issues facing the country. We were “selected for a reason,” they told us. We had played a key role in the election and now Obama was putting out the call of service to help create change. We knew “how to make a stink,” and were encouraged to do so.
If a former Obamabot can see just what bad boogly this is for the arts community in general and the NEA in specific, what more can I say, except this:
If they want politicized art, I would be MORE THAN HAPPY to “help create change”. If art should “bring awareness to issues”, well hell, I can do that. I’m enough of an old folkie to remember what part music had in the 60s Communization of the culture. And I’ve read of the old Popular Front composers of the 30s, Uncle Aaron and his Socialist Realism. We can do that, just like we can do Alinsky.
And the first change, before anything else, should be to abolish the NEA.
As a commenter points out, artists are overwhelmingly leftists and do 99% of Thy Master’s Bidding anyway. And yet they apparently feel they must organize the effort and have the NEA — the country’s largest funder of art — slip out the word that all efforts in this area would be much appreciated.
Did you know that there are now 150 tracks in the iTunes Store with “Obama” in the title?
UPDATE 9/2: Apparently Yosi Sergant is a lying POS. And whazzup with that name anyway? Did his mom ask for baby-naming advice from Ayn Rand?