Taxpayers Billed for Climate Change Poetry, LGBT Book Clubs for Kids

More Art!

Stock photo of a man reading poetry into microphone / AP
June 6, 2016

Billboards about "gender-stereotyping," LGBT book clubs for kids, an opera about child bullying, and poetry about climate change are all being billed to the taxpayers as new projects from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Issues of immigration, green energy, and gun control are each featured in art projects announced by the agency last month. The latest list of grants is consistent with the first round of projects for 2016, which included plays about food stamps and lesbian gun control activist.

The grant list includes $15,000 for public bus stop ads, posters, and a billboard in Los Angeles "addressing the issue of gender-stereotyping." L.A. Freewaves, which has been heavily subsidized by the taxpayers in the past, received the funding. NEA-funded work by the group includes advertisements to encourage Californians to give up their cars in favor of bikes.

The new "Dis…Miss" campaign will address "fantasies and realities of gender polarization in local and mass media" and hopes to "open new avenues of thought and stimulate dialogue on new gendered relationships."

The group previously featured vagina videos on the homepage of its website.

Other projects center around immigration, including funding to an immigration community organizing group in Maryland.

A theater company in Los Angeles received $20,000 for a play about immigration, which will present a "contemporized (sic) look at borders."

"The musical is a cross-cultural and contemporary adaptation of French composer Bizet's opera ‘Carmen,’" according to the grant. "Created as a response to the current immigration challenges in the United States, it will incorporate the themes of immigrants' rights and class struggle."

CASA de Maryland, an immigration community organizing group that supports amnesty for illegal immigrants and protests "unjust immigration enforcement policies," received $15,000. The funding will create an art program for kids in Maryland called "Borderless."

A theater company in St. Paul, Minnesota received $15,000 for the series "Speaking Out: Our Immigration Journey Through Puppetry."

The San Francisco Mime Troupe received $20,000 for their musical "Freedomland," a story about the grandson of an ex-Black Panther who returns from fighting in Afghanistan to find "another war zone at home" where young Black men "are in the crosshairs!"

"Unarmed black men being killed by the cops and they can just get away with it," said one actor describing the play.

The San Fransisco Mime Troupe put on Black Panther puppet shows in the 1960s, and performed the musical 1600 Transylvania Avenue, which decries "corporate bloodsuckers" and capitalism as the "personification of greed."

Another $40,000 project in Seattle will team up artists with a "multicultural team of professional teaching artists with social justice backgrounds" for a residency program on racial equity.

The NEA is also funding projects focusing on gender and LGBT initiatives, including $10,000 for the National Queer Arts Festival featuring LGBT artists of color in San Francisco.

Part of a $20,000 grant will go to a mentorship program for "emerging writers" in "an LGBT senior center" in Beverly Hills, and a play in Pasadena, California about a Chinese take-out restaurant that challenges "typical gender, age, and ethnic constructs" is costing $10,000.

Portions of a $10,000 grant will go towards the "LGBT Saints and Sinners Literary Festival" in New Orleans, $20,000 was spent for a play about "rape culture," and $10,000 for a theater company in Glen Echo, Maryland for a "feminist take on the Cinderella fable."

Part of a $25,000 grant is funding an LGBT book club for teens in New York City. The National Book Foundation recently started its first "BookUp site for LGBTQ youth," where kids take field trips "geared towards queer bookstores."

The New Jersey State Museum Foundation received $50,000 for a traveling exhibit that will "examine themes and concepts related to politics, gender, home, memory, and immigration."

Another $30,000 went to a folk art museum in Long Island to make artwork "related to the legacy of women" out of tin siding, plywood, house paint, and branches.

Green energy themes are also inserted into many art projects. A $30,000 grant will add solar panels and wind power to an art center in Belfast, Maine, and $25,000 is being spent on "multipurpose bike stations" in Detroit.

Part of a $10,000 grant will go to a poetry series on "Climate Change and Being" in Tucson, Arizona.

The Civilians, the theater group that received $700,000 from the National Science Foundation to put on a global warming musical, also received $10,000.

The funding will produce another play by Steve Cosson, the director of The Great Immensity, the climate change musical that featured songs about redistribution of wealth and "sea-soaked" teddy bears. The play ended its run early amidst lackluster reviews.

The new play "Shadowy Figures" will explore the questions of "what is it to be alive; what is consciousness; and what might happen to us after we die."

A grant worth $45,000 will build light up "solar-powered pods" in Austin, Texas, and $100,000 is being spent to create a 20-acre "food hub and cultural gathering space" in Phoenix.

A traveling bicycle theater group in Santa Rosa, California, that gives "Story-time for Adults" received $10,000. In Houston, a $10,000 music workshops about scientists entitled "It’s All Relative" puts Neil deGrasse Tyson in the company of Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein.

The Houses on the Moon Theater Company in Jackson Heights, New York, received $10,000 for the play "gUN COUNTRY," and the group will bring in a gun control group for discussions after shows.

The play will investigate "America's relationship to firearms," and the theater company will work with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence to "engage communities most affected by gun violence." The group supports the New York SAFE Act, one of the strictest gun control laws in the country that allows police to search a gun owners’ home without a warrant.

Rosie O’Donnell’s theater company received $40,000 for after-school musical theater training for kids, and a family puppet festival in Los Angeles to promote "cross-cultural understanding" is costing $25,000.

Taxpayers are being billed $20,000 for an opera for kids about bullying in Madison, Wisconsin.

"The Elixir of Love" will "revolve around issues of bullying, substance abuse, and being true to oneself."

In all, the projects total $645,000.

Published under: Government Spending