Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Change Comes to the NEA

The new chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman, has some interesting plans. A New York Times report of a recent interview has all the details. I’m particularly encouraged to hear Landesman plans to fight for his agency’s budget and will “focus on financing the best art, regardless of location.” I also like the concept behind a program Landesman called “Our Town,” which would provide incentives and subsidies to encourage artists to move to urban centers:
“When you bring artists into a town, it changes the character, attracts economic development, makes it more attractive to live in and renews the economics of that town,” he said. “There are ways to draw artists into the center of things that will attract other people.”
Although this is a difficult, if not impossible, theory to prove objectively, I tend to agree with it. I believe a critical mass of artistic people can enliven a city, and I hope Landesman’s Our Town program will be extended to writers.

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