HERE ARE excerpts from an interview in The Ripon Forum with the ousted chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, John Frohnmayer. (The Ripon Society is a research and policy organization oriented to moderate and liberal Republicanism.)
Q. Your successor, Anne-Imelda Radice, has said she thought the NEA might very well go down the tubes. If that did happen, what would be the cultural costs to the United States?
A. Immense. Because one of the great successes of the arts endowment has been to create state arts agencies in every state and every territory, and there are almost 4,000 local arts agencies now, a whole bunch of presenters and a network of touring organizations and performers. It would be devastating to that network.
Q. Your successor said that she is going to change the way grants are given and break the country up into seven segments to give a little more geographic distribution to funding. Is that proposal something that has been well thought out?
A. Certainly not. I mean, to do it by quota is to ignore the fact that artists have traditionally congregated in some areas of the country. You don't give cotton subsidies to Vermont and to suggest that you can just sort of by formula dole out the money by state or locality sounds more like a political pork barrel than it does like a real attempt to try to find the best artists in the country and give them support.