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Arts orgs fight back against McCain, Coburn

Thursday, December 17th, 2009



The Culture wars are afoot again as politicians face off with arts organizations over government funding. Last week Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn issued a report detailing a list of 100 recipients of stimulus money, which they called “silly and shortsighted.” The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has called their criticisms “simplistic”.  Two Philadelphia theater companies are caught in the middle.

The report names the Spiral Q Theater – the same puppet studio that was raided by police during the Republican National Convention in 2000. The senators also ridiculed the Pig Iron Theater as cowboys performing a clown ballet on asphalt.

Temple University history professor Bryant Simon says the report is reminiscent of the culture war Senator Jesse Helms invoked against the National Endowment for the Arts 20 years ago.

Simon: In the wake of Helms attack in the 90′s, it was clear people in the Smithsonian were looking over their shoulder. They were not putting on exhibits they felt were compelling – they were worried that what they did would raise the ire of people on the Hill.

20 years ago Jesse Helms attacked NEA recipients on moral grounds. Last week’s report by McCain and Coburn questioned stimulus money recipients for their contribution to the economy.


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