Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Arts? Who Needs Them?

Lindsey Dreyer, over at her My Dance Space has done a favor for lot of us in the theatre community by posting the Presidential Candidates positions on funding for the arts. I've written before about Mike (The Evolutionary Revolutionary) Huckabee and his position on increased arts funding. He sees the arts and arts education as a way to teach children how to communicate ideas in digital society. However he's had a limited impact on the arts in the national scene. The other candidates have had the opportunity to actually vote on the subject. Congress approved a FY 2009 budget request for The National Endowment for the Arts to $160 million. Bush proposed a cut in the budget from the present $144 million to $128 million. Bear in mind that in 1992 the NEA budget was $176 million.

from her blog:

Barack Obama:
-Supports increasing funding for the NEA from $125 million to $175 million annually
-Wants to expand both public and private partnerships between schools and arts organizations
-Supports the creation of an "Artists Corp" to work in low-income communities
-Promotes cultural diplomacy (send performance artists abroad)
-Welcomes international artists into the US
-Wants to provide health care to artists and their family members
-Supports ensuring tax fairness for artists
-As Senator, co-sponsored and passed legislation to honor the legacy of Katherine Dunham
-Supports the Artists-Museum Partnership Act, which allows artists to deduct the fair market value of their work when making charitable contributions

Hillary Clinton:
-Supports the NEA's mission and increasing Federal funding for the NEA
-Wants to reform No Child Left Behind to strengthen funding for arts education in public schools
-Believes in international cultural exchange as a form of diplomacy
-Supporter of Public Broadcasting
-Created the Finger Lakes Trading Cooperative, an initiative that links local businesses with artisans in upstate NY
-Helped to develop affordable living/work space for artists in Buffalo
-Entered a statement to the Senate Congressional Record in support of creative arts therapies
-As First Lady, was the honorary chair of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities

John McCain:
-In 1999, voted NO on funding for the National Endowment of the Arts
-Does not support abolishing the NEA
-Voted in favor of the Helms Amendment to withdraw Federal funding grants to art considered "obscene"
-An honorary member of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, 1997-present
-2007, proposed a bill to protect Indian arts and crafts

Marching Backwards Into The Future

Thanks to Theatreforte I've come across a new blog with a terrific idea. Lucas Kretch, a lighting designer here in NYC, posts a weekly round up of news about renewable energy and energy efficiency called Solar Sunday. One link will take you to an article about new solar panels that collects infrared energy and another takes you to an article about an all electric car for short hops thats called the ZENN. Like the feel of that old flashlight you've had forever? Want to keep it forever? Try an LED replacement lamp from LEDtronics that will stretch battery life to 92 hours, 15 to 20 times longer than regular bulb. The lamp will last for 50,000 hours. It's a retirement lamp.

Thanks Lucas. There is so much going on that is often pretty hard to keep up with all the changes. It's good to have it collected in one place. Theatre is such an energy and resource expensive art form. Sets are built an then thrown out. Lighting uses enormous amounts of electricity. As theatre professionals, we should take more control over the use, reuse and efficient use of the resources we have. Producers will complain about the operating costs of running a show but not think twice about having all new wings and platforms built while the show down the street is throwing the same away. I recently heard of a scene shop that threw out a large amount of stock scenery because the cost of the storage space was so high. There is the Set Recycling Hotline that does some terrific work but like many resources in the arts, it is woefully underfunded.

He also has some terrific pieces on art, aesthetics, lighting, theatre and politics.