Rocco Landesman, the theatrical producer now taking over as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, opts out of the defensive strategy of recent NEA chiefs. In an interview with Robin Pogrebin in The New York Times, Landesman calls the endowment's $155 million share of a multitrillion-dollar federal budget "pathetic," advocates recognition of artistic quality instead of maintaining geographical balance in grant-making, and calls for reversing the ban on grants to individual artists.
In a comment that should ring some bells in Virginia cities, Landesman cites "the critical role of art in urban revitalization."
He also remarks that right-wing attacks on the NEA and public subsidy of the arts exploit perceptions that art is "elitist, left wing, maybe even a little gay":
I haven't surveyed the right-wing blogosphere for reaction (I'm not paid for this gig, and I'm not a masochist); but the right's culture warriors are sure to have Landesman in their sights. This target, though, shoots back.