The German Marshall Fund of thenUnited States was established by thenBundestag in 1972 as an expression ofngratitude for the Marshall Plan. Itsnmission, never very clearly articulated,nwas to support comparative study ofnproblems in industrialized nations, internationalnaffairs, and European studies.nThe Fund has received criticism,nfrom time to time, for the trendiness ofnits commissions, but it retains the solidnbacking of most German political partiesninterested in developing better relationsnwith the U.S. Most Americansnhave probably only heard the namenamong the credits at the end of NationalnPublic Radio’s All Things Considered.nIt’s a curious way to repay annold debt—by subsidizing the mostnconsistently anti-American news programnthis side of Radio Havana. Onnthe other hand, the Fund was thenbrainchild of Willy Brandt. Perhaps itnwas simply a cog in the wheel of hisnOstpolitik designed to conciliate thenSoviets. In that case, the Fund’s annualnbudget of 10 million marks is a goodninvestment. At least it’s not ournmoney. ccnState funding for the arts is stirringncontroversy once again—this timennorth of the border. Two years ago,nCanada’s Progressive Conservativesnannounced a C$3.5 million cut in thenbase budget for the Canada Council,nthe country’s federal arts agency. Canadiannarts organizations, who dependnupon the government for over a thirdnof their income, immediately wentninto action, staging public rallies,npleading their case in television andnnewspaper interviews, and twistingnlegislative arms. The effort paid off: thenarts budget was reduced a mere 1npercent (C$570,000), and the triumphantnartists could go back to theirnvoluntary servitude as governmentnemployees.nBut the war wasn’t over. Last yearnthe Canadian Conservatives sackednTimothy Porteous, director of thenCanada Council. Porteous left officenaccusing the Tories of underminingn”the long-established tradition of artsnfunding in Canada” and of allowingn”political criteria” to taint its grantsnpolicies. Porteous’ complaint was echoednby Curtis Barlow, executive directornoi^ the Professional Association ofnCanadian Theatres. “I think,” Barlownsaid, “that. . . the arm’s length principlenis clearly under attack.”nIt is a strange world, when reducingnartists’ dependence upon governmentngrants is equated with “politicizing”nthe arts. What they really mean bynpolitics is public opinion, a powernroutinely despised by artists. But it isnnot just artists. Every “minority” wantsnto protect its interests from public scrutiny.nLast year, blind activists insistednthat blind people have a right to taxsubsidizenbraille editions of Playboynand that taxpayers were obligated tonprovide it, regardless of their moralnscruples. The “politicizing” of the artsnrepresents nothing more sinister thannthe effort by some elected officials tonprevent tax dollars from paying forn”artistic” assaults upon their constituents’nbeliefs. The predictable reactionnis moral outrage.nRecently John Brademas, presidentnof New York University, criticized thenReagan Administration for “mountingnan assault on the National Arts Endowmentnand other programs to supportnthe arts.” Formerly a congressmannand a principal sponsor of the legislationncreating NEA, Brademas complainsnthat Reagan observed the 20thnanniversary of the NEA last year byntrying to slash its budget. But has ournnational culture really been enrichednover the past two decades by the costiynsupport the Federal government hasngiven the arts? In his provocative studynThe Democratic Muse (Basic, 1984),nEdward Banfield suggests that it hasnnot, as he documents the “disheartening”ntrack record: millions spent onn”art therapists” who try to cure criminalitynand lunacy with watercolors andnceramics, on employing otherwise unemployablen”artists” who have thenright friends and use the correct vocabulary,non alieviating “cultural deprivation”nby putting bored slum dwellersnthrough “art sensitivity” sessions. Banfieldncites grants given to artists forntrying to “manipulate the Chicago skylinenfor the period of one year,” forn”dripping ink from Hayley, Idaho, tonCody, Wyoming . . . commemoratingnthe birthplaces of Ezra Poundnand Jackson Pollock,” and for dozensnof other burlesques. Almost everynmajor university now has a taxsupportedn”artist-in-residence” whoncan get almost no one but his captivennnstudents to read his books or look at hisnpaintings, and almost every major citynnow has some huge piece of “modernnsculpture,” an eyesore resented bynmost of the citizens whose taxes paidnfor it. Much of a recent NEA grant tona San Francisco mime troupe went ton”providing health benefits.” Heavennknows, mimes in San Francisco havenevery reason to be worried about theirnhealth.nBut beyond the manifest weakeningnof aesthetic standards and the opennencouragement to insults to publicntaste, tax support for the arts inevitablynturns potential artists into full-timenlobbyists. Curtis Barlow admits that innrecent years “political awareness hasndominated [the] agenda” among Canadianndramatists worried about governmentnfunding. In California,nwhere a “Multi-Cultural AdvisorynPanel” has just been set up to overseenan ambitious affirmative action artsnprogram, we hear littie discussion ofnart and a great deal about the politicsnof special and ethnic interests. A Hispanicn”graphic artist” argues that thenpanel’s main responsibility is ton”achieve parity” for minorities, “andnour efforts should be concentrated onnthat goal.” Another panelist, a “taikondrummer,” wants a “more equal balancenof the money given to the geographicnareas, disciphnes, and to minoritynartists.” A third panelist, andancer, insists that Black American,nPan Asian, and Chicano artists “willnnot be exploited, but we must sharenequitably in disbursement of publicnfunds.” Curiously, in their explanationnof the panelists’ qualifications, thenCalifornia Arts Council’s State of thenArts referred repeatedly to their “communitynactivism” and “political activism”nof the minority panelists. In thesencases, politicizing the arts is apparentlynlaudable. In any event, we are confidentnthat with a large, dark room andnenough long knives, the CalifornianArts Council can devise a subsidydistributionnplan that will satisfy all ofnits contending artists, minority activists,nand “art facilitators.” They couldnfilm the entire meeting as a study innviolence, maybe even get angrant. … ccnMARCH 198617n