Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Decision 2008: Boston Tea Party nixes arts-and-culture policy

Tom Knapp, the vice-presidential candidate for the Boston Tea Party, weighed in about this third-party's views on arts and culture. Charles Jay, the party's presidential candidate, was also asked to comment but did not reply.


AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT: This blog does not endorse any U.S. presidential candidate. It simply wants to investigate the arts and culture policies of the candidates in this year's election.


RANDY: Does the Boston Tea Party have an arts and culture policy?
TOM KNAPP: I find the idea of an "arts and culture policy" bone-chilling. The Third Reich and the Soviet Union were the kinds of countries that believe art and culture should be subject to government policy.


RANDY: What is the position of the Boston Tea Party in regard to the future of National Endowment for the Arts?
KNAPP: The primary purpose of the National Endowment for the Arts is to give conservatives a hook to hang their moral outrage on. It's absurd to hold that the NEA exercises any considerable positive influence on American arts. The 39 theatres comprising Manhattan's Broadway theatre district grossed ten times NEA's annual budget inticket sales last year. One single Sotheby's auction of a painting brought in three times the NEA's annual budget in bids. To put it bluntly, the art community itself could do what the NEA does, and ten times as much of it, by establishing a trust into whicha few of the industry's bigger players throw a fraction of a percentof the money they make. The NEA isn't about art, it's about politics. And the bottom line is this: It's not your responsibility to subsidize my tastes in art, nor is it my responsibility to subsidize your tastesin art. It's just not government's job to make that happen.


RANDY: Have you gone to see a play or musical recently?
KNAPP: Both. Here in St. Louis, I am more than happy to pay market price for tickets to Circus Flora, a show at the Fox or the Muny, etc., if that's what I want to see (and it often is).


RANDY: Have you ever helped improve the life of theatre artists in any way?

KNAPP: Every check I've written for a ticket has been cashed. Presumably some of that money found its way into the artists' pockets.
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