Cultural Revolutions

Annual Report

The National Endowment for the Arts has released its 1990 annual report. So have the various state arts councils, including the Illinois Arts Council (IAC). The Lyric Opera of Chicago received a $1 million grant and a couple of hundred thousand for spare change, all of which will supposedly "make a major long term commitment to American and European opera of our time." (Why American taxpayers should want to subsidize European opera wasn't addressed.) The Lyric Opera also received $169,700 from the lAG, making the whole package just shy of a million and a half.

I'm always fascinated by what my colleagues in the Chicago arts community have managed to skim from federal, state, and local cultural coffers. The 1990 NEA grant to Chicago artist Jacqueline Foster for $10,000 reads as follows: "To support a project to teach low-income, inner-city residents the fundamentals of interior design so that they can make improvements in their homes." There is also the Randolph Street Gallery, an annual NEA/IAC favorite. This year the Randolph Street Gallery grabbed a mere $157,220 from the combined agencies. The gallery likes to present itself as an "alternative space," something a bit to the left of the crass commercial mainstream. It's located in a neighborhood just northwest of Chicago's downtown, offering "emerging" artists a bit of "otherness" in an underground mystique. A little...

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