The Playgoer: Rocco Plays Nice

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rocco Plays Nice

The newly minted chairman of the NEA will be heading to Peoria to beg for forgiveness. Or something. (Full background here.)

I don't have any problem with the thought behind Landesman's original remarks. (Obviously, he should have found a more tactful way to express that thought.) But I wish he'd singled out theatres other than the Steppenwolf and the Goodman for praise.

Everyone knows those two large, prosperous companies are capable of good work. And sure, they deserve funding.

But what about, say, The Hypocrites? What about Soho Rep? Every bit as artistically successful as the larger regionals, aren't they equally deserving of NEA support? Why aren't those companies on the tip of his tongue?

Nitpicking, perhaps. But Landesman professes to want to be a risk-taking NEA chief. So lets hope he's interested in great art wherever it's made. And that he doesn't equate artistic merit with public prominence when it comes to funding decisions.

As I'm sure he knows, there's plenty of serious, important work being done at institutions that don't have eight figure budgets.

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