30 Issues: Funding for the Arts

Friday, October 24, 2008

John McCain said he doesn't know much about the arts but is willing to be educated. Design a curriculum. How would you give McCain a crash course on arts and culture? What does he need to know? Post

Two local arts administrators, Harlem Stage’s executive director Patricia Cruz and Keith Stubblefield, chief financial officer of The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), talk about the funding picture for New York’s arts institutions.

Robert Lynch, C.E.O. of Americans for the Arts Action Fund, examines both of the presidential candidates' positions on arts and culture policy.

Coco Fusco, performance artist, author, video artist and chair of the Fine Arts Department at the Parsons the New School for Design, gives an artist’s perspective on the issue.

Patricia Cruz will take part "The Cultural Warriors", a panel discussion, at Dance Theater Workshop on Nov. 6 at 6:30.


Patricia Cruz, Coco Fusco, Robert Lynch and Keith Stubblefield

Comments [62]

BJ Radio

5:04! Hillllarious.

Nov. 02 2008 12:40 AM
Richard Cooper from Long Island

Let's separate state and culture. As an arts aficionado and libertarian, I reject any government involvement in the arts, whether by subsidy or censorship. Both violate individual rights.

With so much contemporary art carrying political, religious or social messages, taxpayers are forced to pay for the messages they do not share or reject. Isn't that unjust?
Cultural welfare is just as reprehensible as corporate sports welfare like the Atlantic Yards.

To make this clear, substitute the words preachers and churches for artists and cultural institutions. If there were no First Amendment, consider why there should be one.

Richard Cooper, former Chair Libertarian Party of New York

Oct. 27 2008 10:58 AM
Michael Biddle from Croton, NY

John McCain (the old warrior) could well start by examining the contributions artists have made to the war effort during WWII. The War Department started the Artist Correspondent program to enlist the efforts of artists to document combat in the various war theaters. My father, George Biddle, served in this capacity and spent several months overseas in North Africa and Italy in 1943. Many artists produced outstanding work in this effort, and in fact there is a museum at West Point devoted to artist efforts to document the war effort. I believe there was a similar program during the Vietnam war, but am not sure about details. Many artists of the past, notably Goya, have served to document the inhumanity of war and have become the great moral compasses to which we turn in times of adversity and suffering.

Oct. 24 2008 01:25 PM
mark gettes from New York

One comment about the comments - many writers say they want to expose McCain to important works in Western Art. But why should it be Western Art? It may be more important to expose him to works from around the world - then it makes it harder for him to act as if those peoples, and parts of the world, are of little importance...

Oct. 24 2008 01:13 PM
Richard from Texas

I just remembered, I have one other thing.

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper
you are misinformed.

Mark Twain

Oct. 24 2008 01:07 PM
Richard from Texas

As I see things, for arts and all other subjects, America loses in this election. I will vote for McCain, because I still can't figure out what Osama (Obama) stands for. Here is a link that I did find interesting during the election period.

Subject: Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?

Oct. 24 2008 01:06 PM

Unfortunately, Mr McCain is typical of many Americans of all ages who rarely read serious newspapers, listen to or watch media that support the arts, and have no idea what they are missing. It all starts at home for many of us, and our public education system should make it possible for it to start at home for ALL of today's children. For grown men who have been indifferent to the arts, it may be a result of an early "macho" stance, which could lead to a boring retirement and a whiney old age. (Not meant as a sexist remark.)

Oct. 24 2008 12:34 PM
Joseph Sannicandro from Purchase, NY

Brian, and co,

Of course I support arts funding, but I think that a more pressing issue for supporting artists is ensuring cheap rent.

Oct. 24 2008 12:04 PM

It's impossible to predict what might really stick with McCain in one pitiful hour, what might show him the transformational power of art.

I'd take McCain through the process of actually enrolling in a college course--show him first-hand how screwy and _expensive_ it is to actually learn anything today.

Our educational decline to 24th in the developed world corresponds with the astoundingly expensive educational system we have implemented (all those casino-derived educational funds don't seem to have done much good in NY).

I paid $109 for a semester at UC Berkely in 1964. At that time--before Reagan came in as Gov.--we had the best educational system in the world.

Oct. 24 2008 12:02 PM
Paul from Glen Cove, NY

Greenvale has it right: Empathy, you'd think it would be something he'd learned to utilize as a POW and invoke more currently, like national health care as performance art.

Oct. 24 2008 11:59 AM
Pamela Smith from Brooklyn, New York

John McCain might like to meet, or know about, an art world maverick: Willoughby Sharp (b.1936, NYC). Since the early 1960s Sharp operated independently from the established art world institutions curating ground-breaking exhibitions, co-founding and publishing "Avalanche" magazine (1970-76, with Liza Bear), becoming a videoperformance artist in the early 70s, employing pre-internet telecommunications technology to create artist-run networks (late 1970s). Mr. McCain: Google Willoughby Sharp!

Oct. 24 2008 11:58 AM
Jen B from Louisville, KY

I'd start with dance. John McCain should take a modern dance class. Something with an Alexander Technique inspired warm up, that would help him find some release and a more centered and functional place to move from. I hope he'd discover--like so many others--the power of movement in mind-body connection, communication, empathy, and all around transformation.

Oct. 24 2008 11:54 AM
hjs from 11211

in a black and white, good and evil GOP world order is there room for art?

Oct. 24 2008 11:52 AM
Brian from Manhattan

Brian did you just try and sell us some Independent Radio Default Swaps?

Oct. 24 2008 11:52 AM
Creighton from NYC

I would take him to the Met and show him a general history of art with 5 of the most important pieces in western art.

1. Ka-Statue from Egypt: the vessel for the soul
It is a demonstration of both the foundation of religions of the world and it's relationship to art

2. corinthian vase - one of the first pieces in history to be signed by the artist - stemming from trade

3. A painting demonstrating the development of Renaissance perspective - how science and art developed together from that point

4. Anything by Jacques-Louis David - the founder of art as concepts greater than the subject of the art. Art in politics as well.

5. Anything by Marcel Duchamp - where concept is and equal or larger part of the total piece.

From there, I think he could have an appreciation of art throughout history and a great footing for what is happening now.

Oct. 24 2008 11:49 AM
Marcia rubine from manhattan

I'd teach him the way i taught my sons when they were young.. the two Mets..first,the museum..arms and armor and the Egyptian collection, most little boys like war toys and mummies..then the opera..Rigoletto.lots of bad guys..political intrigue and even a woman singing from the inside of a sack..maybe he could relate.

Oct. 24 2008 11:48 AM
mark gettes from New York

I would have McCain take some African dance classes. It might loosen up his mind (as well as his body)!
Anyway, I hope that, after the election, he'll have lots of free time...

Oct. 24 2008 11:47 AM
Bevin from Brooklyn

If I was teaching John McCain his first art lesson it would be in Voice for the actor to get rid of his "s" speech impediment. He should have done this already. Actors work to eliminate problems like his and maybe some actor training would make him a better speaker.

Oct. 24 2008 11:46 AM
Bevin from Brooklyn

If I was teaching John McCain his first art lesson it would be in Voice for the actor to get rid of his "s" speech impediment. He should have done this already. Actors work to eliminate problems like his and maybe some actor training would make him a better speaker. Bevin -Brooklyn

Oct. 24 2008 11:45 AM
Tony Davis from Brooklyn, New York

I would make sure that he has an overview of all the categories of art, including the visual, performing, and literary.

Regarding music, I would illustrate with works that have been embraced all over the country and the world -- especially the influence of American music from its roots in folk music, religious hymns & gospel, and blues, and how all of these streams have flowed together to create the music of the twentieth and 21st centuries---including jazz and rock and all of his favorites on his music list.

I would make sure that he understood the key role that African descendants have played.

Oct. 24 2008 11:44 AM
sarah meredith from NYC

I would have him do three things: 1) draw a nude from life 2) learn to play an etude and 3) rehearse a scene from a play until performable. then I would ask him how long it took to accomplish each task. then I would suggest to him that the practice and mastering of an art form is every bit as challenging, difficult, intellectual and rewarding as, say, the study of business or law. then I would ask him just how proud he was of his accomplishment. then I would suggest that the arts should be essential in the education of our children because the kind of pride he (presumably) feels about his drawing, his etude and his performance should be a part of all our lives.

Oct. 24 2008 11:44 AM
susy from manhattan

Hi, can you please reiterate the name / url of where to see a line list of the candidates' stance? thanks!

Oct. 24 2008 11:43 AM
Yes We Can! from Atlanta/New York

mccain said "art" - Senator Obama said "arts"

Oct. 24 2008 11:42 AM
Jil from Westchester

First, McCain should go to to hear the NYPhil play Gershwin's "An American in Paris".

Then, he'd go across the plaza to watch City Ballet dance Balanchine's "Jewels".

Then, he'd have to swing down to City Center to watch the Alvin Ailey Company perform "Revelations".

Then, up to the Met to take a look at Manet's "Boating" and Henri LeRolle's "The Organ Rehearsal".

Next, take the 5 downtown and browse through the incredible Native American dresses at NMAI.

And finally he'd go see "Gypsy" on Broadway.

Oct. 24 2008 11:41 AM

Check out this chilling marvel of obfuscation and desperate justification from Karen Brooks Hopkins, president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as she addresses the morality of accepting money from an organization promoting a product that kills 400,000 of our friends, neighbors and family a year. (And that's in this country alone. Don't even ask what they're doing in developing countries.)

Sure, let McCain learn a little about art.

But also let arts orgs learn a little about morality and civic responsibility.

Throwing money around is how PM buys influence in Congress-- exactly the same way they buy influence in the arts community.

We're so easy.

Oct. 24 2008 11:39 AM
Laura from Brooklyn

How about Art & War through history and its influence on our culture?
There's plenty of evidence that shows the effect of war depicted in a moving and emotional way......the list is to large but Picasso's Guernica would be there.

Oct. 24 2008 11:39 AM
Phoebe Pollinger from Montclair, NJ

First of all, I would recap groundbreaking studies in arts in aging, arts in education and arts in business which all show the benefits of the arts to people of all ages. Then I would start quoting from the latest Americans for the Arts Economic Prosperity Report which discusses the breadth and impact of the creative economony on the overall economic development of our country. I'd then advocate for a dedicated funding source for the arts. Arts funding is an investment - it's not a subsidy. Arts is not just something that's nice to have, it's a requirement !

Oct. 24 2008 11:37 AM
sdm from brooklyn

i would introduce mr. mccain 3 art works.
duchamp's "fountain", andre seranno's , "piss christ" and damien hirst's, " the physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living". the reason for introducing these specific influential works to Mr. Mccain is to demonstrate that ideas matter - ideas manifest in these cases as visual art, can affect the way we perceive the world. secondly, i would suggest that he may want to consider the work by hirst as a metaphor for his presidential campaign.

Oct. 24 2008 11:37 AM
Bobby from midtown

A good lesson in history and technique.
Get him away from the typical "Republican art" such as Winchester and Rockwell and expose him to some current real stuff. Give him a Banksy 101.
A life drawing class with an overweight male model would be a good start in technique.

Oct. 24 2008 11:36 AM
Yes We Can! from Atlanta/New York

For the love of peter he said, ART! Brian dadgummit drop the "s"

Oct. 24 2008 11:36 AM
RD from Battery Park

Speaking of the arts [and funding it] does anyone know when the next dollar-for-dollar match is? I want WNYC to get the most bang for the my donation buck!


Oct. 24 2008 11:36 AM
Martha from Park Slope

I read an article that talked about Obama and McCain's tastes. In that article, they talked about how McCain listens to a very limited range of music. Personally, that seems quite wrong for a President since musical expression is on of the most obvious expressions for different cultural groups. For that reason, I'd send him to a music appreciation class. He needs to understand all Americans, not just the ones that listen to ABBA (his favorite).

Oct. 24 2008 11:34 AM
Joan Hall from Manhattan

I have taught Collage at the School of Visual Arts since 1978. I would teach John McCain how to create art from found objects and recycled materials. He could make collages from Obama posters as art therapy!

Oct. 24 2008 11:31 AM
Stephanie from Greenvale, NY

I would put John an introductory acting course. His first role would be to play the father of a girl who had been raped and been impregnated. In the scene, his daughter would be desperately pleading him for permission for an abortion.

the arts can teach just about anything. Empathy being one of the most important!!!!

Oct. 24 2008 11:30 AM
Bnach from New York

McCain did not say "arts", he said "art". Brian, listen to your own clips or at least the clips you play for your listeners.

Oct. 24 2008 11:27 AM
Q from woodside queens

I would give the following one hour lecture to Senator McCain or Obama.

--Broad Catalogues of Arts:
Music, Performance, Visual Arts, Etc.
I am a Visual Artist, speaking from that aspect.
--Visual Arts include painting, drawing, photography, print making, performance, video, sculpture, installation, film, interdisciplinary, etc.
--Giving some visual examples of each genres throughout the history of art.
(That's more than enough for an hour)

the most critical regarding art education is that we need to work hard to make ART EDUCATION as part of k-13 curriculum, not just as part of after school or enrichment programs. What encourages in Art is fundamentally positive. Doing so would encourage professional artists to teach and provide opportunities for working/emerging artists, would minimize the agencies that mediate between and profit...almost too much to say about art, art education, artists and existing syestematic problems...

Oct. 24 2008 11:27 AM
Robert from NYC

I'd send him to a kindergarten finger painting class where they use edible finger paints.

Oct. 24 2008 11:25 AM

he will need something to do with his free time after the election. i would like to see john mcain enroll in an undergrad art school program and take a year of foundation courses in visual arts with an emphasis on art history/appreciation.

Oct. 24 2008 11:23 AM

he will need something to do with his free time after the election. i would like to see john mcain enroll in an undergrad art school program and take a year of foundation courses in visual arts with an emphasis on art history/appreciation.

Oct. 24 2008 11:23 AM
charlie kruger from harrington park nj

for mccain's art lesson:
in film, i'd have him watch The Grapes of Wrath and Duck Soup. then we'd have a lively discussion of Picasso's Guernica and Afghan weaving. We'd view a performance of The Cradle Will Rock, and then have a brief overview of the photography of Helmut Newton just to keep him from being bored.

Oct. 24 2008 11:21 AM

BAM has been sucking at the teat of Philip Morris for the last 20 years. AND doing its bidding on legislation (no gift is without strings). AND parroting PM's line ("oh, lots of things are harmful").

How many of the tobacco dead do we have to step over so arts orgs can do their thing?

How many lives is a work of art worth? Isn't art meant to enlighten? To teach? To adhere to some vestige of morality?

I wouldn't give BAM a cent. It's essential vision, as taught by its own actions: Step over whatever you must, do whatever your funders ask you to do in order to survive yourself.

Oct. 24 2008 11:18 AM
Amy from Brooklyn

With only one hour, I'd like to try to show him the abstract principles that underlie most of art - and life as well. This means removing content and suspending judgment.

The curriculum:

Comedy in a language he doesn't speak. Imagine what you could learn as pure rhythm if watching "Who's on First" in Korean.

Dance (any kind) without music. This forces him to take in the mood without blatant cues of what he "should" feel.

For whatever it's worth, I'm a professional visual artist - if I can say that without claiming to make a living at it.

Oct. 24 2008 11:17 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

The real story of the arts in the country is how they've become polticized in recent years. That this was allowed to happen is the real tragedy.

Oct. 24 2008 11:16 AM
anon from New York

There is a problem here. The way each group presented their gov't funding was misleading. Ask BAM how much of their operating income is "all gov't"

Oct. 24 2008 11:13 AM
clea toibin from upper west side

well, you could start him [mccain] out easy with South Pacific: a musical with a lot of military figures & wonderful songs shouldn't be too difficult to appreciate.

then you could move to Don Giovanni (with subtitles in English) -- not too hard to understand, some angles for mccain to identify with, fantastic music

then you could move to Nozze di Figaro with
a figure sort of like Joe the Plumber -- Fig the Barber.

by this time, mccain would have some familiarity with the arts and could take a break with The Bourne Ultimatum or some flick he has already seen...

then time to start over again, perhaps with Mahler....

these brilliant ideas submitted by Clea Toibin of the upper west side.

Oct. 24 2008 11:12 AM
Ravish Momin from Brooklyn, NY

Start with a basic chronological timeline of US Music History showing the huge influence of African-American culture on most of today's music. Also, show him (by examples from other cultures, present and past) that the overall vitality, spirituality, and creativity of a people can be judged by their artistic resources.

Oct. 24 2008 11:12 AM
Ralph from Bowery

Brian, please don't call $3mil a year a "small arts org" - that's middle tier at the least. There are literally hundreds of theater org's under $100,000 a year, and that's just theater.

Oct. 24 2008 11:11 AM
Yes We Can! from Atlanta/New York

Abre Los Ojos!

Oct. 24 2008 11:10 AM
Sarah Feeley from Brooklyn

Dear Mr. McCain, our tears are like the rain, that is a simile, see how easy art can be.

A tuba needs hot air, perhaps you'd like to blow one?

A garden's nice and dirty, perhaps you'd like to grow one?

Arts are this and arts are that and arts cost lots of money.

Artists often smile despite their lack of funds and money.

I really think, Mr. McCain, that you could love the arts and all...

Get in touch with your artistic side, maybe you'll become a liberal.

Oct. 24 2008 11:09 AM
Diane from Somerset, NJ

Send McCain to Italy. There's no better way to learn about art and western civilization. He should leave right away, stay a few weeks, relax...

Oct. 24 2008 11:09 AM
hjs from 11211

life is full of art. open your eyes

Oct. 24 2008 11:08 AM
Adam Abel from Brooklyn

I am a photographer and educator. I would engage John McCain in a discussion about the power of images in our expanding digital world by having him read Susan Sontag's NY Times article from 2004, "Regarding the Torture of Others."

Oct. 24 2008 11:07 AM
David from Brooklyn

I have been teaching Fine Arts (Painting) for 25 years, presently at Parsons. My recommendation for John McCain's interest in learning about the arts would be an intensive course in teaching how to really see, that is experience seeing, to learn how to listen, really listen and to experience how our senses are gateways, means to feeling, to experiences that are new, fresh, unfamiliar and valuable

Oct. 24 2008 11:07 AM
Yes We Can! from Atlanta/New York

How do you get to be that old without any exposure to the cultural arts? This mccain character never ceases to amaze me. He should start by visiting his local library!

Oct. 24 2008 11:06 AM
Carey from Brooklyn

I would start McCain with one of the most misunderstood area of recent art history - Abstract Expressionism. Specifically, Jackson Pollack. Once he understood how American artists broke the boundaries of what are itself could be he might consider art appreciation to be quite a patriotic pastime.

Oct. 24 2008 11:05 AM
Tony from Brooklyn

John Mccain's first lesson in the arts, courtesy of an advanced, proficient musician of 26 years:

A 16 hour lesson in abstraction and spiritual connectedness...featuring three hits of LSD, a couple of joints, and an entire wall of music of all genres.

Oct. 24 2008 11:04 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

What would I teach McCain about art and culture? This is so vast and so personal if he hasn't thought it about it by now, it's hard to know where to being. I would take him into the classrooms of passionate teachers -- elementary, middle and high school art and music classes so he could see children and young people expressing themselves through visual and performing arts. I would take him into college classes where professors are engaging their students in understanding, interpreting and interacting with works of literature and iconic cultural wrorks. Perhaps he would then see that the arts are a vital part of everyone's experience and development and he would be inspired to explore these areas for himself.

Oct. 24 2008 11:03 AM
Joan from Manhattan

Oct. 24 2008 11:01 AM
Seth from Astoria

I would teach the Maverick how to do a single pirouette. Its a more gracefull turn than the 180 flip-flopping he is used to doing.

Oct. 24 2008 10:58 AM
Alex from Queens

I have no formal training what so ever with art but I would accompany John to the MET and walk around with him for an hour. Start with the best baby! (Not including the Louvre, Hermitage, British museum of History or the Prado)

Oct. 24 2008 10:58 AM
antonio from park slope

pretty simple..
I would tell him to subscribe to the leonard lopate podcast.. lenny always has a diverse array of folks in the arts!
he can get one of his aides to show him how to download it!

Oct. 24 2008 10:57 AM
Richard Williams from Larchmont, NY

I am an unemployed music teacher who has a strong passion for the music of the symphonic band. I hereby offer my services to conduct a symphonic band of WNYC's choice in a fundraising concert. Please get in touch with me so that this can get under way.

Oct. 24 2008 10:36 AM

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