It's a worthwhile objective, to be sure. But government exhortations for artists to join the United We Serve brigade makes me more than a little uneasy. Many, if not most, of our most important and influential artists and cultural institutions are impelled by self-driven creative imperatives, not external political ones. That's the way it SHOULD be.
She reports on the call:
During last week's conference call (on which I was a lurker, after a waiting period rendered nearly unendurable by our being a captive audience for three clunkers from Kenny G's "Greatest [or Worst] Hits" album), there was much talk of finding ways to "get the arts community engaged in a sustainable way" and "leveraging federal dollars" to get artists and cultural organizations involved in social-service projects.
Americans for the Arts, whose president, Robert Lynch, played a leading role during the conference call, has launched a United We Serve arts website, where you can "share your story" on how "arts make change happen." Among the highlights: "The Ultimate Happy Hour at Gap, Inc." and the "United We Serve Arts Idea Kit."
Interestingly, she adds that Modi started the call by saying that his colleagues from the NEA and the NEH (the National Endowment for the Humanites) were "tied up in meetings and couldn't participate, as had been planned." She asks: "Could it be they were having second thoughts about commandeering their constituents for this political adventure? We can only hope so."
Please. While these conference calls do sound genuinely cringe-worthy and bone-crushingly boring, only a conspiracy theorist could believe that a public conference call with communications flacks from federal agencies talking about "raising awareness" of "social service" projects portends a freedom-crushing Dept. of Propaganda. Again, Courrielche has provided no evidence that the NEA plans to depart from its charter and fund anything political; a guy from the endowment inviting artists to participate in the United We Serve program is a separate thing.
Now you may, like a certain constituency on the right, feel that the White House's calls to civic service are an effort to indoctrinate a new Hitler Youth and/or to create some kind of civilian army to take away Granny's guns along with her Medicare. It makes perfect sense, then, that Courrielche has taken his case to the court of the half-wit moonbat Glenn Beck:
(My favorite quote is Courrielche's: "Big Hollywood is an art community." Well, that's one way to put it.) Not to get into the weeds here, but the excerpt of the conference call played in that clip, with its allegedly ominous talk of finding "safe" legal language in which to have this "brand-new conversation," seems to be about finding a legal framework for putting government initiatives on Facebook and Twitter--a portion of the conversation that Courrielche conveniently left out of his story, and which is arguably a different matter than the sort of sinister extra-legal conspiracy to subvert the NEA's charter he was implying.
That said, I still haven't heard back from Yosi Sergant at the NEA regarding this matter. I'll keep trying and let you know what I find out.