for Public Support of the Arts?” I introducedrnmyself to Olivia R. Baisden, thernDirector of Public Information for thernNEA, who at the moment was discipliningrnher young son, who was busy rollingrnon the floor. Ms. Baisden, “a person ofrncolor,” along with Mr. Kimber D.rnCraine, a person of uncolor who is therncommunications manager for the NationalrnAssembly of State Arts Agencies,rnwere manning the barricades for the beleagueredrnagency. I gave them each a reproductionrnsheet of my own fine art butrnlacked the courage to inform them of myrnsub’ersive mission, for among the panelistsrnI was the only “arch-conservative,rnmean-spirited, right-wing conservativernideologue” who thinks the NEA is sillyrnand a waste of money and a cheap-shotrnpropaganda mill that buys off Americanrnartists for less than the price of one reallyrngood tactical nuclear weapon.rnThe NEA booklet that was beingrnpassed out was called “A prospectus forrnthe Arts, America in the Making,” andrnfeatured on the inside front cover in arnperfect black-and-white bleed-trim photornwas an ob’iously compassionate, vibrant,rnand enchanted Jane Alexander,rnchin on hand and seated below a standingrnAmerican male child of African descent.rnIn the background is a black malernwith a baseball cap and long grayingrnbeard smiling as he guides a young blackrnfemale child who holds a small pottedrnplant while looking earnestly out of thernphoto. The caption reversed out of thernphoto reads, “Our investment makesrnpossible the breadth of excellence, diversity,rnand vitality that is America’s culture.”rnThe message is subtle but clear:rnwithout the NEA there is no hope forrnvou indolent peasants, and if “you people”rnexpect black males to nurture theirrnyoung, to be “role models,” vou can’t dornit without us!rnOn my panel sat Gordon Quinn, executiverndirector of the famed movie HooprnDreams. Mr. Quinn is a very nice manrnwho like many of mv 60’s generation stillrnseems hopelessly lost in a morass of misguidedrnsocial causes that have createdrnthe setting for Hoop Dreams. Also on thernpanel was Penny McPhce, the director ofrnthe Arts and Culture Programs at thernJohn S. and James L. Knight Foundationrnin Miami, Elorida. She is a “babe,” arn”fox,” a bright chipper woman for whomrnI would buy a drink any old time, openrndoors, and grovel shamelessly like anyrnother middle-aged American husband.rnThe essence of the postmodernist careerrnwoman. Penny is an award-winning authorrnand PBS producer and past chairmanrnof the Dade Countv Arts in PublicrnPlaces Trust. The Knight Eoundationrnpoints the way toward the future, whichrnis the privatization of state cultural agencies.rnMy guess is that Ms. McPhee sawrnthe handwriting on the wall.rnThe state arts councils were representedrnby Anthony Radich of the MissourirnArts Council and Dean Amhaus of thernWisconsin Arts Council. Mr. Radich, arn25-year arts bureaucrat, has been instrumentalrnin establishing the Missouri CulturalrnTrust. The goal of the trust is to developrna fund of approximately $200rnmillion in the next ten years. Once thisrngoal is reached, the MAC fact sheetrnstates, the “Missouri Arts Council [may]rnno longer require state general revenuernfunds.” The fund would be built fromrntaxes on out of state performers and athletesrnworking in the state and from privaterngifts and bequests. The MAC initiativernis the supposed “future” of publicrnarts funding.rnFor those of us who view the NationalrnF^ndowments and state arts councils asrninstruments of social engineering, this isrna reality check, a wake up call. The NEArnand NEH budgets have been cut, andrnthe NEA has favored block grants tornstates rather than individual grants to petrnartists. But the Republicans’ deep-thinkrnpolitical solution, “Let the states do it,”rnwon’t dismantle the cultural bureaucracy;rninstead, it will perpetuate it. Even ifrnthe National Endowments are completelyrncut, causing the state agencies to topplernlike dominos or stalks of overriperncorn, the children of the corn will continuernto line up with grant applicationsrnin hand. Clever artists will create paperrn”foundations, coalitions, and alliances”rnto help collect rent when individualrngrants become a political liability. Perhapsrnthe 21st century will see Missourirnbecome a “magnet” for rent-seekingrnartists grovehng for cultural welfare,rnmuch as California has become for illegalrnaliens seeking free medical care,rnschooling, and housing.rnThirty years of what I call “NationalrnCulturalism” has done its damage, and itrnwill take generations to undo. Radicalrnchic and arrogant upper-middle-classrnviews of what culture should be and whorn”needs” it have been imposed on Americarnby endless peer panels and the new executiverndirector class of the artisticallyrncorrect. Ultimately, what it will foster isrna rebellion against this new Salon; inrnfact, it already has. Artists will be definedrnby their opposition to this government-rnapproved “nomenklatura” andrntaxpayer supported tenured class. Thernnew counterculture will be highly individual,rncynical, and culturally subversive,rnand it will be free.rnAmerican artists have gotten a bumrnrap because a relative few have workedrnthe “censorship” bandwagon to the levelrnof sanctimonious national publicity.rnKaren Finley has an agent and new pressrnphotos, and the infamous Piss Christrnphoto is a fully commodified item thatrnno cocktail party of the arty elite shouldrnbe without.rnOn my panel. Dean Amhaus defendedrnhis Wisconsin turf, pointing to thern”underserved” who need the arts to saverntheir lives. Anthony Radich pitched hisrnCultural Trust, I ranted about NEArn”buzzwords” and cultural cronyism, andrnPenny McPhee displayed her feministrndash. I told my favorite grant story,rnwhich for me points out the utter absurdityrnof so many grant projects: it is of onernJacqueline Foster who, a few years back,rngot $10,000 to “teach inner-city residentsrnthe fundamentals of interiorrndesign so that they could make improvementsrnin their homes.” The only improvementrnI’ve seen so far in Chicago isrnthat the public housing zoos are beingrntorn down, and thus far no interior designersrnare manning the barricades in opposition.rnMr. “Hoop Dreams” Quinnrnwas nonplussed at my lack of “sensitivity,”rnfor it was left to him to put me in myrnplace. “Yooouuu weren’t there!” he spat.rnThe peace, love, caring, and compassionrnof the Hoopman fell away, as he charged,rn”Yooouu don’t know what she did . . . “rnand so on, but I countered that at anotherrnevent Mr. Quinn presented the murderousrnMedicis as great examples of governmentrnpatronage, and that he wasn’trnthere either! But perhaps he was, for thernlovers of government and power have alwaysrnbeen around hiding behind religion,rnor now children and “access.”rnThey like to make rules and judge us byrntheir standards, which they seek to imposernby their own view of the “commonrngood.”rnThe NEA shows in high relief thernpresent contradictions of the culture war.rnThe pious rhetoric of the left claims thatrnwithout endowments culture will stop.rnTo disagree with them is to “attack thernarts.” They have captured the highground,rnand they clear the minefields ofrnconservative dissent by marching womenrnMAY 1996/47rnrnrn