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Farewell to WordPress

If you’ve been wondering why things have been so quiet here lately, it’s because things have been completely crazy elsewhere. However, I am thrilled to announce that Drama Queen, my blog for ArtsJournal.com will go live on Monday, 5/12/08. You can visit me at www.artsjournal.com/dramaqueen. You may also have noticed “Philly” missing from its title. Though I will use my beloved hometown as a base for blogging, the issues covered at ArtsJournal will be more national in scope. However, as we’ve learned from Willy Loman, even small personal dramas can become epic, universal ones. So don’t worry Philly, attention must–and will–be paid. 

Brian Denehy Salesman

(Mind you, I searched everywhere for a shot of Tom McCarthy with Scott Greer and Greg Wood at the Arden, but alas, Brian Dennehy will have to suffice.)

Thanks for coming and please remember to visit ArtsJournal on Monday–the link won’t work until then–when I’ll pick up the NAEP discussion once again. And have a look around while you’re visiting. The place is becoming a hotspot for Philly alumni: former Inky arts editor Jeff Weinstein blogs about culture and former Inky dance critic Elizabeth Zimmer blogs about “time-based art forms.”  ArtsJournal also accepts ads on their blogs, so if you’re looking to reach people for whom the arts are as central as… Broad Street, then welcome home, my friends.

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Dead Kiddy Porn

To hold you over until Monday, read my review of Bryony Lavery’s Frozen from this weekend’s Philadelphia Inquirer. You can’t talk back on their website, but feel free to let loose right here.

The play was based on Lavery’s–to my mind–arrogant reaction to a documentary she’d seen on England’s Moors Murders. Moors murderers

 

Perhaps it wasn’t wise for the paper to send the mother of a daughter exactly the same age as the play’s murder victim to review the show, but on the flip side, I am something of a closet expert on serial killers (as is my mom, which, for a time, made for some truly odd mother-daughter bonding sessions). 

Anyway, I found the play exploitative in the most cynical way, and it really got under my skin, but not, I’m guessing in the way InterAct might have hoped. And one thing I didn’t have room to mention in my review: grieving mother + fondling dead child’s skull = way, way over the top. 

John McCain Hates Shakespeare

So, on to Mr. McCain.

I’ll be blunt here: John McCain wants to eliminate federal funding for the arts. That’s right, ELIMINATE it. (This from bipartisan Vote-Smart.org.) Even that nice NEA “Shakespeare for a New Generation” program. Alas, poor Yorick. Olivier as Hamlet Whatever your feelings about government funding for arts and the strings attached, some funding, however fraught, is better than none at all. 

Long ago, McCain voted for the Helms Amendment, which hoped to deny funding to work considered “obscene.” Certainly, this amendment might have put a dent in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s current blockbuster, “Frida,” considering that it features obscenity central to the artist’s work such as this: Frida Kahlo 

In 1999, McCain voted with, among others, Sens. Robert Smith, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, Sam Brownback and John Ashcroft (who believes dancing is an affront to God, a notion I find obscene) for the Smith-Ashcroft amendment. The amendment hoped to cut all funding for the NEA from that year’s budget. And here’s the introduction it received:

“In proposing the amendment, Smith explained that his objective was not to reform or restructure the NEA, but to close it down. He argued that federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts is unconstitutional. Ashcroft joined Smith in speaking in support of their amendment.”

I’d love to list a point-by-point analysis of the Republican candidate’s current positions on arts professionals or funding, but, well, he doesn’t have any. (A quick search of “arts” on McCain’s website turned up Andrew McCain’s Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. Congratulations!) And if you’re wondering how McCain feels about arts education, you can keep on wondering, because his entire education policy goes something like this: here’s your voucher; now go somewhere else or stop complaining.

If you’re of the mind that the cream rises to the top and eliminating arts funding will get rid of all the dross cluttering our artistic landscape, then you haven’t visited a school, theater, museum or arts festival lately, and you sure wouldn’t be reading this blog, because the idea for it grew out of a recent NEA fellowship I received.

Without federal money supporting these outlets, they will disappear. Subscribers cover only a portion of operating funds, and closing the NEA will close them down too. Once that funding dries up–and it just might if McCain wins the election–so will all those fancy new theaters dotting Broad Street, as will our festivals and museums. And once the Avenue of the Arts’ neon lights are dimmed, you can also say goodbye to everyone who bought Center City condos during the housing boom, the galleries, boutiques and restaurants that have sprung up around the city’s various arts scenes, and all those tourism dollars spent outside of the historic district. At least you’ll still have the war in Iraq… for the next 100 years. Take that into account the next time you say you’re voting your pocketbook.