Theater The NEA Dials Its Time Machine Forward, a Nation Rejoices
posted by June 10 at 11:13 AMon
Back in May, I got all mad on Slog about Shakespeare and the NEA:
Shakespeare gets enough attention and reward in America, what with the NEA shoving piles of its theater money to Shakespeare-in-the-heartland projects because they’re too afraid of Congress to fund much else—like, say, even American classics like Tennessee fucking Williams.
Which is bogus.
It’s not like the NEA has to shove cash directly into Karen Finley’s crotch to earn its name as America’s arts foundation, but can it dial the time machine forward at least 400 years, to the early 20th century?
Slog’s wish is the NEA’s command.
Yesterday, America’s arts foundation announced it would start giving money to help develop new plays.
The NEA New Play Development Program has $90,000 each available for two scripts; they must be already written and attached to theater companies planning to stage their world premieres by the end of 2010.
And there’s $20,000 each for five shows that are at a more germinal stage, where a writer and theater company need money to work on an idea, without a full commitment yet to a production.
Those $20,000 grants are especially gutsy. Since they don’t require a full commitment to a production, they carry a high risk of the you’re-wasting-our-tax-money-on-lazy-artists criticism. Someone at the NEA must be feeling ornery.
This isn’t just good news for theater nerds, it’s good news for America—the NEA used to be one of the most cowed institutions in Washington, helpless and terrified of the Republican machine.
Maybe this is a portent, another sign that the tide really is turning against the bullies and vandals of the W-era Republican Party.