Joshua Conkel drew my attention to this post on the Huffington Post by playwright Jon Robin Baitz, who apparently was asked, along with other "artists/cultural figures," by the L. A. Times "what they might do if they ran the N.E.A." The list of respondents: Bill T. Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Noah Wyle, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Frank Gehry, Tom Hayden, Tim Robbins, Tim Miller, Rachel Dratch, Neil Patrick Harris, Neil LaBute, Kurt Andersen, Kate Burton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (?), Judy Fiskin, John Patrick Shanley, John Baldessari, Joel Wachs, Joel Stein, Eve Ensler, Edward Albee, Debbie Allen, Ann Coulter (WTF?), Bill Maher (abolish it), Bill Pullman (interesting viewpoint), Harvey Weinstein, Sandra Tsing Loh, and Rachel Maddow. No doubt Teresa Eyring will chime in in American Theatre next month suggesting more money for Facebook.
If you want to understand why the artistic life of this country is so superficial and unoriginal, I invite you to read the "contributions" of these assembled mental midgets. Let me summarize the lot: 1) more money; 2) more arts in schools; 3) more money; 4) money to individuals; 5) more money; 6) the WPA lives; 7) more money.
There were a few faintly interesting and vaguely original ideas from Tim Robbins, Bill Pullman, and Tim Miller. But for the most part, this should be seen as deeply embarrassing by the artistic community, who should hope that this isn't passed on to the Obama team (are you listening, oh great Obama-teamer Isaac?). Unfortunately, most of the artistic community shares this deep-as-a-kids'-plastic-pool philosophy, as any regular reading of the theatrosphere would reveal. This was an opportunity for artists to actually show themselves as worthy of funding, and instead we got Neil Patrick Harris burbling, "So long as they keep funding public television and radio, I'm good. I grew up learning lots from "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company" -- everything from the alphabet and numbers to sharing and a sense of humor, and I still listen to NPR daily. Ira Glass? "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!"? Great good times. Über-important. I can't imagine our world without them." For Chrissake. "Uber-important"???
Could we get some grownups to speak, please?