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Alec Baldwin cites CLA in Nancy Hanks Lecture

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 2:41 PM | Alma Robinson (Administrator)

CLA received a noteworthy mention in Alec Baldwin's Nancy Hanks Lecture at Arts Advocacy Day yesterday in Washington, DC.  Describing the federal 2009 "Economic Stimulus" Program which provided $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts to help arts organizations preserve 5,000 jobs, Baldwin noted that a Fox News contributor had attacked a list of NEA grantees:  

"Her list focused on grants to groups such as: a Center for Puppetry, an International Accordian Festival, the Maine Indian Basketmaker Alliance, the California Lawyers for the Arts, all attacked without reference to quality, as if just words like 'puppetry', or 'basketmaker', or 'accordian' or 'lawyer' were to be ridiculed. It seemed like the rest of her list focused on any organization or project that had words like nude, gay, lesbian, ritual, or California in them."

Baldwin then challenged the assembled arts advocates: "You know what I want all of you to do now, don’t you? I want you to go home tonight and write a poem that contains the words basketmaker, accordion, lawyer, nude, gay, lesbian, ritual, and California in it. C’mon. It’ll be fun!"

We sent this exercise to devorah major, 3rd San Francisco Poet Laureate and a CLA mediator and facilitator par excellence, who quickly rose to the occasion:

It is a taxing day
tho’ neither gay nor lesbian
I've still the stress of April dues

I’d love to be nude
lying in the sun 
turning a walnut brown
a ritual of summer 
on some California beaches

but instead I am looking for
an accordion file to sort my receipts
so I’ll not need a tax lawyer down the way

perhaps this would be a good time
to become a basketmaker.
It, at least,
would be fun.

© 2012 -- devorah major --All Rights Reserved.

It must be time to start advocating for additional arts funding so that we can save more jobs in our communities, keep our kids in school instead of juvenile halls and inspire our best analytical thinking.  On Capitol Hill, Alec Baldwin called for a $1 billion expenditure for the arts, arguing: "You can't find the spending in federal dollars that has the resonance that these programs do." 

Arts funding is good for our communities, good for the soul, and good, as well, for our national economy and revenue base.  After all, working artists pay taxes!

Alma Robinson, Executive Director
California Lawyers for the Arts



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