Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) was typical of the opponents to the stimulus legislation who seized on the arts to discredit the overall package; he told the House chamber, “It included wasteful government spending that has nothing to do with creating jobs. As I asked on this floor last week, what does $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts have to do with creating jobs in Indiana?” Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) was even more emphatic, saying, “We have real people out of work right now and putting $50 million in the NEA and pretending that’s going to save jobs as opposed to putting $50 million in a road project is disingenuous.”
I have highlighted the key sentence. There are TWO theatres in Indiana listed on the TCG website, both in Indianapolis, which is not in Pence's district. Jack Kingston is from Georgia, which has 15 TCG-listed theatres, most in Atlanta, none in his district. Both rightly see this money as likely to go to a few major metropolises, none of which they represent, most of which are probably centered in the Northeast or California. This is an illustration of the connection between artistic centralization and the weak legislative support for the NEA. Until the arts, and artists, decide that the rest of country is a worthwhile place to create art, no amount of huffing and puffing about Republican cretinism will have any effect. Time to wake up and smell the real coffee. This is too big of a country to have a centralized art scene.