Amendment to the Constitution andnthe Language of Government Act.nMost importantly, the majority ofnAmericans, including Hispanics, supportnthese proposals. A Gallup surveynreleased in January showed that 78npercent of those polled favored Englishnas our official language. Of familiesnwith a native language other than English,n74 percent were in favor. Whennasked if they felt making English thenofficial language of government wouldndiscriminate against them, 95 percentnsaid no; 88 percent of families with annative language other than English saidnno.nMikhail Gorbachev, in his 1987nbook Perestroika, paid tribute to thenrole a common language has played innthe forming of our country: “thoughnrepresentatives from many ethnicngroups came together in the UnitednStates, English became their commonnlanguage. Apparently, this was a naturalnchoice. One can imagine whatnwould have happened if members ofneach nation moving to the UnitednStates had spoken only their ownntongues and refused to learn English.”nIt’s an embarrassment to our countrynthat so many of our political leadersnrefuse to acknowledge what evennMikhail Gorbachev knows to be truen— that English is the cement thatnholds our ethnic mosaic together.n— Ronald Saunders,nExecutive Director of U.S. ENGLISHnTHE NATIONAL ENDOWmentnfor the Arts has released itsn1990 annual report. So have the variousnstate arts councils, including thenIllinois Arts Gouncil (IAG). The LyricnOpera of Chicago received a $1 millionngrant and a couple of hundrednthousand for spare change, all of whichnwill supposedly “make a major longnterm commitment to American andnEuropean opera of our time.” (WhynAmerican taxpayers should want tonsubsidize European opera wasn’t addressed.)nThe Lyric Opera also receivedn$169,700 from the lAG, makingnthe whole package just shy of anmillion and a half.nI’m always fascinated by what myncolleagues in the Chicago arts communitynhave managed to skim from federal,nstate, and local cultural coffers. Then1990 NEA grant to Chicago artistn8/CHRONICLESnJacqueline Foster for $10,000 reads asnfollows: “To support a project to teachnlow-income, inner-city residents thenfundamentals of interior design so thatnthey can make improvements in theirnhomes.” There is also the RandolphnStreet Gallery, an annual NEA/IACnfavorite. This year the Randolph StreetnGallery grabbed a mere $157,220nfrom the combined agencies. The gallerynlikes to present itself as an “alternativenspace,” something a bit to thenleft of the crass commercial mainstream.nIt’s located in a neighborhoodnjust northwest of Chicago’s downtown,noffering “emerging” artists a bit ofn”otherness” in an underground mystique.nA little raw in feel, but justnenough adventure for the avid art buff.nThe gallery is housed in a buildingnowned by developer and art buyer LewnManilow, who certainly sees no evil innhaving state subsidized tenants.nThough subsidized by both state andn, federal government, the RandolphnStreet Gallery deems it necessary (perhapsnto complete its BoHo image) tonset out a dollar jar for beer at artnopenings. I’ve often wondered, whilenstuffing my dollar into that jar, hownmany citizens would be willing to do sonif they knew the extent to which theynsubsidize this place each year. Thisncounterculture scene is repeated acrossnthe country. Favored litde groups stuffntheir pockets with government subsidiesnwhile presenting themselves asngood and true soldiers of “diversity.”nThis is the new cultural “doublethink”nof our era: the “alternative” is thenmainstream.n”Commitment” seems to be the artnworld’s current buzzword. Shirley R.nMadigan, chairman of the Illinois ArtsnCouncil and wife of Michael Madigan,nspeaker of the Illinois House of StatenRepresentatives, used it four times innthe lAC’s 1990 annual report. “Withnthe creation of the Illinois Arts Councilnone quarter of a century ago, thenIllinois General Assembly demonstratedna commitment to the citizens ofnIllinois. …” NEA Chairman John E.nFrohnmayer is also fond of the “cword.”n”Federal support shows ourncommitment to the general welfare ofnour citizens, particulariy in their pursuitnof happiness, and support on thennational level is a sign to the rest of thenworld of the value our culture placesnon our culture and civilization.” Sonnnstrong is this “commitment” that innJanuary 1990 the Illinois Legislaturenformed another arts committee, addingnyet another layer of bureaucracy to thenquagmire of state government. Thennew committee seats, among others,nRichard Love — artist, arts promoter,nTV host, and owner of a very successfulngallery. Richard Love is all toontypical of the new brand of arts politico.nAlso on this committee is artsnmaven Irene Antoniou, who also doublednas an NEA Opera, Theater, MusicalnAdvisory Panel member in 1990.nPerhaps this is what Chairman Madigannmeans when she refers to then”economic power of the arts to insurenIllinois’ growth.”nReal commitment to the arts is anlonely and frustrating business. It wasneloquently summed up in a supermarketnaisle by a former classmate of minenfrom the School of the Art Institute ofnChicago. Standing between the plasticnwrap and the air fresheners, he wasnirate that two other former classmatesnof ours had, as husband and wife, eachnwon $ 15,000 from the NEA. They arenupper-middle-class whites who live innone of Chicago’s exclusive NorthnShore suburbs, and both have longnbeen represented by one of Chicago’snmost influential galleries. As my ownnschool chum said, “Why should I paynmy tax dollars to them to do what I donafter I get home from working nine tonfive all day?” Why, indeed. Perhapsnthis is what Chairman Frohnmayernmeans when he says the NEA is “committed”nto supporting “diversity innAmerica.”nI sympathize with my frustratednclassmate. My own career as an artistnand painter has spanned the twentyfive-yearnspread and growth of governmentnintervention in the arts. In 1965nmy work was included in the 29thnCorcoran Gallery of Art Biennial Exhibitionnin Washington, D.C. A blacktiendinner followed that included suchnassorted luminaries as Robert Rauchenbergnand Nancy Hanks. Nancynspoke glowingly of her efforts for governmentn”support” of the arts. A truenbeliever. Of course, at age 25 I wasnvasriy impressed and did not realizenthat I was present for the beginning ofnthe end of freedom in the arts innAmerica. Today I marvel at the wit,ncleverness, and utter nonchalance ofnthe new American arts aristocracy as itn