Art and the government make such strange bedfellows, as the new head of the National Endowment for the Arts recently demonstrated. In an interview with The New York Times, Rocco Landesman — the Broadway producer appointed to the post by President Obama — rose to defend his ward against the constant criticism of NEA funding: “The arts are a little bit of a target. The subtext is that it is elitist, left wing, maybe even a little gay.” Clearly not a fan of subtexts, Landesman is a frank leader of the nation’s art budget, especially when it comes to which parts of the nation should get a piece of the NEA’s financial pie. “I don’t know if there’s a theater in Peoria, but I would bet that it’s not as good as [Chicago’s] Steppenwolf or the Goodman,” Landesman told the Times. “There is going to be some push-back from me about democratizing arts grants to the point where you really have to answer some questions about artistic merit.” You can imagine how that played in Peoria.
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