Monday, January 23, 2017

Blog Milestone: One Million Page Hits

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on......................"

Not much to celebrate of late - for anyone really.

But I hit a small milestone last week, recording the blog's one millionth page hit - over the ten year plus life of the posts.  That's in addition to the five million plus times the blog has been in subscriber's mailboxes.  Of course, that doesn't mean that many people read all these blogs or even a goodly amount of them.  And I am sure many people ended up on the site unintentionally and by mistake.

But the fact of the numbers brought a smile to my face, and a certain humility in that I never envisioned that doing something like this would have that kind of ultimate reach.  Quite astounding to me.

Blogging is a bit of an arrogant conceit, thinking you have something important and meaningful enough to say that justifies invading people's time and space, and I have no illusions that in trying to provide relevant, useful information or insights, that I likely miss the mark far more often than I am on target. And that's ok with me.  If now and then I get it right, to even just a few people, that makes it worthwhile for me.

So I am enormously grateful to the readership for continuing to check in from time to time.

I don't know how much longer my health will allow me to keep posting, but I enjoy doing it, and intend to keep at it as long as able.

Thank you all again.

And I hope somehow things start to look a little brighter for everyone.

Don't Quit
Barry

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump to Eliminate NEA?

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on........................"

Several reports today that the Trump Administration is considering elimination of funding to the NEA and the NEH.  This is line with the recommendations of budget cuts by the Koch Brothers funded Heritage Foundation, which, the reports indicate, is a blueprint for Trump's first budget.

Now this is hardly yet a done deal.  Budgets take time to craft and changes are frequent.  Moreover, virtually every Presidential budget is merely a starting point for consideration by Congress.  And Trump (who wanted Sly Stallone to Chair the agency) may not go for it.  But this is a threatening possibility - the sum of all fears for the nonprofit Arts sector.

There is no question that there are forces within Trump's team and within Congress that would like to see funding pulled from the Endowments.  The ostensible public reason is to further deficit reduction (though the pittance amount of funding for the Endowments will hardly have any effect at all in reducing the deficit), but the Endowments have long been a symbolic target for a sector of the conservative right.  Whether or not elimination of all funding will end up in a Trump budget isn't yet clear.  We will simply have to wait.

A herculean effort to flood the new Administration with public outcry is probably a required step to try to protect the agencies.  And it probably should start immediately.

And if elimination is in his budget, then the arts can try to muster a massive public outcry with tens of thousands of letters, phone calls, emails, petitions, editorial support and more to try to support the bi-partisan Arts Caucus in Congress that has been supportive of the arts (at least marginally so).  Will that kind of rallying of support be enough to protect at least some part of the Endowments budgets?  Who knows.

The arts, of course, have little political clout or power to leverage a victory, but we are not without support - if we can muster a big enough response.  We will have to forcefully make the arguments as to the value of the arts - economically, to jobs, to community development and otherwise - with data, stories and local impact reminders.  And we have to hold Congress' feet to the fire if they move to eliminate the agency.

Elimination of the Endowment would mean the agency's grants would disappear, as would their first rate research efforts, their convening apparatus, and the imprimatur of the federal agency's stamp of approval, which helps to leverage local support.  Elimination might also embolden state efforts to eviscerate local funding as there are many who want all funding, at every level, to the arts gone.

And elimination of the 40% share of the NEA's budget that is allocated directly to the states and the regional arts organizations, may put any number of smaller, more rural state agencies (the GOP states) at risk of, if not outright closure, then severely curtailing programming, as many depend heavily on that federal money to keep their doors open.

It also sends a global message that America doesn't value arts or culture.

But all of that may not matter to those that want us gone.

We have no idea yet if other federal monies in other agency's budgets that support arts programs might also be at risk.

And so now it begins..............

I hope Americans for the Arts, the other national service providers, the state and city agencies and all the arts discipline organizations can mobilize massive efforts to lobby Trump and Congress not to defund the Endowments - the total funding of which is a minuscule less than one half of one percent of the total federal budget.  I hope the nation's press rallies to our defense along with a public that has some appreciation for art and culture as part of the nation's fabric.  I hope other groups as far flung as the Federal Reserve and the PTA will join our cause.

But we're in a new world here, and we just really don't know what will happen, and whether or not we can stand up against the forces that may align against us.  One big problem for us is that there will likely be funding cuts and program eliminations across a wide specter of government spending and thus we will find ourselves in a long line of interests that will be fighting for their own survival.  Allies and friends will have their own battles to fight and we may find it difficult to justify our existence against many worthy programs, and to recruit partners in our defense.

So we wait.  Organize and wait.  Much the same as the entire nation will have to wait to see how all of this plays out.   We hope that Trump will not want it as part of his legacy that arts and culture become a victim and are wiped from the federal support map under his administration.

The only comfort I can offer is to remind all sides - theirs and ours - that American politics always has been, and remains, a pendulum.  And as the pendulum makes dramatic swings in one direction, inevitably it swings back the other way. The more wide the arc, the quicker and more forcefully it swings the other way.

And this much is pretty clear:  the boomers are dying out, and that exodus will accelerate.  All the older angry white voters that caused the pendulum to swing so violently, will see their numbers shrink over time.  And the Millennials numbers will then proportionately get larger.  Moreover, the voting blocs of people of color will also grow as the white population declines.  And finally, the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas will continue and even grow.  And in the last election, the Millennials, people of color and those in the cities (even in red states) all went heavily democratic - not Republican.

Now this demographic shift will take some time, there will be impediments thrown up to thwart the voting, as Millennials age they are likely to shift some of their political beliefs, and there will still likely be anger out there (especially since Trump, like all presidents, will not be able to deliver on all his promises, thus disappointing many of his backers) but it is inevitable that the bloc that elected Trump will eventually no longer hold sway.  The pendulum swings this way, then the other way.

That will be of little consolation to those who will suffer under new policies and priorities - and Trump is only half the equation, as the various agendas on the Republican side of Congress fight among themselves to gain victory, but it must be remembered that time is likely on our side.  There may be considerable damage wrought before the pendulum begins to move the other way.  Those horrified by the Trump presidency and the Republican Congress will inevitably lose many of the coming battles.  Then again, the pendulum may move much faster than people think.  The distrust and negative feelings towards the new administration are historically high.  And Trump may still surprise.

What to do?  Every single person and every single arts organization must actively rally to the defense of the NEA funding.  No one can afford to sit on the sidelines.  No excuse is acceptable.

We're all in for a rough ride on myriad fronts.  Remember we are the majority, not the minority.  You will need to steel yourself with courage for the fight of your lifetime.  And please, don't sit this one out.

And remember too that no matter what happens, actors will act, dancers will dance, painters will paint and sculptors will sculpt, film makers will make films, musicians will play, songs, and plays, and scripts and books and poems will be written, performances and concerts given, operas staged, and millions of people will see, hear and read it all, and the arts will forever be omnipresent.  Creativity is part of the human makeup.  Nothing will stop that.

As Obama said: "It's going to be ok."  Believe in what you do and who you are.  And fight for that.

Don't Quit.
Barry






Monday, January 9, 2017

An Interview with YOU

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on.................."

I have done scores of interviews over the years.  There are easily another fifty people in the field that I know I would like to interview. And there are probably several hundred beyond that who would make for a great interview.

In crafting questions for these interviews, I try to highlight big issues that, while the interviewee may have specific personal thoughts, hopefully are questions the answers to which, a larger audience might find informative and relevant to their own situations.  Hopefully the person being interviewed, and those reading the responses each learn something.  As the interviewer, I almost always learn something new from the process.

So, here's an experiment.  Let me do a brief interview with you.  Right now.  Here are my interview questions for your consideration.  In answering them, I hope the process may help you to develop and clarify your thinking about some issues, and by so doing, even suggest new thinking for yourself.

If anyone out there would like to answer these questions (or any of them), please send them to me (in writing, together with your brief bio) via email and if there are any responses, I will consider publishing some of them.  But even if not, I hope, as an exercise, that this gives you something to think about.

So - get comfortable.  Your answers can be as long or brief as you think appropriate.

1.  What is your assessment of how the recent election (at the local, state and federal levels) will (or won't) impact your work (if at all), short and long term?

2.  What are your plans and strategies to increase staff morale, commitment and ultimately productivity this year?

3.  What is the single biggest issue your organization faces?

4.  Diversity and equity dominated last year's issues for arts organizations.  How big are those issues to your organization in reality?

5.  From time to time, there is talk about mega issues that may (or may not) impact the arts in the future.  An example is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the problem of job displacement and a rearrangement of disposable income.  Are these kinds of big topics the kind of thing you spend any time at all thinking about?

6.  What does your community still not know, and still not "get"  about your organization, and what are you planning to do about that?

7.  What trends are you watching closely, and why?

8.  What are the things you believe are important to you and your organization that you simply don't have the time or resources to pursue, and what does that mean for your organization?

9.  Where do you see yourself in five years (not your organization, but you personally).

10.  If you could change one single aspect of fundraising - what would that be?

I think your answers to these questions, might surprise you, and they certainly ought to give you some information about your job.   I am almost sure those answers can lead you down new avenues of thinking.  I hope so anyway.

Perhaps some of you might even consider trying to interview others in your organization and share the results.  Ask pointed questions that are specific to your organizations and situations.  There really are never any right or wrong answers.

I hope you have a good week.

Don't Quit.
Barry

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - Truth, the Press and the Arts in 2017

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on................."

2016 is over - finally.  A horrible year for me personally (health and finance nosedives), and I think a not so good year globally.  Of course, many people and perhaps any number of organizations, interest groups and entities may have had banner years.  The fates always smile on some and rain on others.  Indeed, on the other side of those who decry the election and the current power center in Washington D.C. are those for whom the change is one long coming and a boon.  We are a divided people.

The wider world didn't seem to come to its senses last year.  2016 continued the collapse of global civility and diplomacy - and even rationality if you consider climate deniers and religious dogma. The world moved to the right in fear people had of the loss of any control over their lives.  Brexit and Trump.  War raged on across the planet:  Syria, Iraq and the Middle East tensions; ISIS and terrorism; increased authoritarian regimes and military dictatorships; Putin and the rise of Russian aggression; China's bullying in the South China Sea; huffing and puffing by the megalomaniac in North Korea; and rampaging violence by the megalomaniac in the Philippines.  Everywhere you turned you were met head on with intolerance.  The economy improved, but the rich got richer, the poor got poorer and the gap between them widened.  Scandals and corruption were commonplace.  For many, everything held sacred and critical was under attack.

A rash of iconic celebrity deaths saddened people and reminded everyone of the fragility of life, and the aging of the population.  Health threats loomed in the background, but fortunately the doomsday scenarios that might one day come true, were not yet armageddon for humanity.

Year end is when we trot forth lists of the past year:  accomplishments and failures; stories with impacts and consequences - often in order of importance; predictions for the future - the isolated issues and the big picture.  It's a new year and anything is possible.  Alas, the evidence suggests the new year will likely be a continuation of last year - and for many, that's not good news.

And while all the stories that dominated the news have importance - for Americans, the top ten issues were arguably the same:  Donald Trump, for changes are coming which will alter the very fabric of the country.

This is a hard time.  And the hard rains are coming fast.  People are dispirited, frightened, unsure and uneasy.  We are in uncharted territory, navigating without a map.  For many, the frightening thing about a Trump presidency is the unknown factor.  We simply don't yet know for sure what will happen, yet alone how to react.  But we have a good idea, and we can already see an upending of the way we existed up to now.  The Trump factor has countless offshoots - from the GOP Congressional agenda that threatens to upend five decades of American foreign and domestic policy - to the profound change that has already arguably rendered virtually useless the fourth estate.  

And it is the failure of the press that should concern us.  Have we already witnessed the death of real journalism - and any vestige of impartial, unbiased analysis and understanding?

In the process of the abdication by the news medias of performing their jobs (for they clearly eschewed digging into the issues in the past campaign in favor of the circus) - facts, evidence and truth itself have fallen victim to fundamental changes in how we gather, analyze, verify and report news of our world.  To be sure this change began sometime ago - at least back to the manipulations of a dishonest Nixon - who, despite denying he was a crook, turned out to be a crook of epic proportions; back to when television became the principal source of news , replacing print, and, post Edward R. Murrow, became a profit center for entertainment conglomerates whose chief concern was bottom line ratings and thus profits.  Talking heads replaced investigative journalists; in-depth investigation was replaced with shallowness of the 20 second story, and the sound bite; the positions and opinions of those that govern us corrupted by the "spin doctors" who sought to explain what things meant - in direct contravention of what was actually said.

And today, truth has taken a further backseat.  It probably started before Dick Cheney popularized the strategy of simply denying everything, and of making stuff up out of whole cloth (Iraq's WMD the most obvious example), but it's now taken full flower as anyone can say anything and then - even in the face of irrefutable video and sound recording - deny their on the record pronouncements completely.  And now it not uncommon for public officials to say one thing to one audience and another to a different audience - then deny any conflict between the two, or that they said either one.  Truth.  Who can possibly know anymore.  Truth has morphed from an absolute to a relative.  We may have crossed over the singularity line for truth, where lies and fake news have merged with truth and real news to blur it all (note: "singularity" is a concept that refers to the merging of human intelligence with artificial intelligence.  I am borrowing it here).

How can a society exist if facts and truth are relative, with myriad groups able to fashion their own truth and their own facts based on nothing more than what they want the truth to be?

Compounding this potentially fatal attack on a working press that provides the citizenry with news based on fact, is that the delivery systems for news have radically changed.  No longer does news come from a few, centralized hubs that are universally shared by everyone, and which are at least somewhat accountable; now news, or what purports to be news, enabled by the technology of the internet and smart phones, comes from ten thousand unverifiable sources via social network platforms and independent sources that masquerade as legitimate news gathering agencies.  Anyone can, and does, say anything as though it were the gospel, as truth.  Lies now pass for truth, and we are increasingly unwilling or unable to even call a lie what it is.  Truth is now - like beauty - in the mind of the beholder - passed on from one like minded person to the next with the same results as in the child's game of telephone.  And the mainstream press seemingly has no interest in calling out lies or even trying to determine what the truth is - nor apparently does the public.  The story is that people believe this or that, and the story is the important thing - not the truth, because people like stories that reinforce what they want to believe.

And does the source of information even matter anymore?  The establishment press - the broadcast channels, the daily newspapers, the researchers - are increasingly listened to, heard and considered by a smaller and smaller segment of the populace (chiefly on the left), with whole swaths of demographic groups and political leaning groups, oblivious to that part of what today constitutes the "press".  Perhaps a majority get their news from highly questionable sources, if they get any news at all.

We've now gone way beyond the Paul Simon lyric that: "A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest."  Updating that chilling observation, as people are no longer concerned with actually "hearing" anything, and so have nothing pesky and troublesome to disregard, people believe what they want, and once having come to their positions, believe anything that validates those beliefs as true.  Truth, facts, evidence are irrelevant.  And the news apparatus and organizations are irrelevant.  The right rejects mainstream press as biased and inaccurate.  The left rejects them as ineffective and complicit in creating the problem.  Journalism is both irrelevant and dead.  No one cares.  I know what I want, and who my guys are.  Everybody else is the enemy - telling lies.  I don't need any other news.

And that portends results and problems that I am not sure anyone can possibly predict with any accuracy.  But it threatens the very idea of democracy.  That ought to worry us all.

And what does any of it possibly have to do with the arts, with us?

Two things I think:
1).  Artists and art has always had a role to play in getting to the truth, and I suspect that as truth falls victim to the manipulation of those in power across the planet, pandering to their base of support that is often in their camp because of successful campaigns to deceive them into thinking the liars are their defenders, art will, and should, play a part in continually questioning the inappropriate nakedness of the Emperor.

2).  As a field, and as individuals, each of us have to ask what can we do, what should we do in the face of a broken world?  What do we do about truth?  An open discussion and debate among us might be helpful to all of us in determining how to act.  On the one hand, we can try to fly under the radar and not alienate our new masters.  On the other, we can sacrifice to bring the cogs of the machine to a halt.  Or neither, or something in between.  We have moral decisions to make that go beyond what we do, no matter how precious and important what we do is.

Everyone will have to come to their own conclusions and decisions about the future, and the future is exactly what 2017 will be about.   But while people are depressed and in some ways paralyzed, we can ill afford to be defeated.  We must steel our resolve and fight for the world we want. There simply isn't any other choice.

As Toni Morrison observed (as quoted in Brain Pickings):

"This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art."

I think Bob Dylan had a tenable suggestion in A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall:


"And I'll tell and speak it and think it and breathe it
And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it
And I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my song well before I start singing
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard

It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall."


Happy New Year to each of you.  I hope 2017 is a better year than 2016.

Don't Quit
Barry






Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dear Santa

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on..........................."


Dear Santa:

I've got a long list this year.  I don't mean to be greedy, but these are things I need.  And not just me Santa, but everybody on your list I think.  Now I know most of those who write to you are kids and that kids want toys and stuff.  I'm no kid anymore.  And I don't want toys.  But what I want is, I think, crucially  important to not only the future of those kids, but their very survivability.

The world's in a mess Santa.  Across the planet there has been a trend towards authoritarian regimes, and now frequently those governments are military dictatorships.  Increasingly freedom is under attack - free speech, academic freedom, freedom from hunger and pain, freedom to live one's life quietly and with dignity.  Increasingly, Santa only a select few are able to enjoy the economic freedom to live quality lives.  Wars are everywhere. Intolerance and hatred is growing.  

And I understand Santa, that most people when asked, will tell you they want money and things, and I'm sure they do.  But I think deep down, most people want what I am going to ask you for - and that the things I hope you will bring to the world are the very things that will make them safe and protect their children.

So here's what I want for Christmas Santa.  I'll spell it out for you:

Civility.  The world could use a little more civility Santa.  Just some common respect and fair treatment for everyone no matter who you are, where you are, your station in life or what you believe.  Enough so we can at least communicate.

Honesty.  Public corruption and greed are on the rise Santa.  Too often, lies and deceit are the norm. It's hard to know where the truth lies anymore. It's become far too common to just make stuff up and falsely accuse, and, unfortunately, too many people are swayed by false arguments and end up acting against their own self interests.  And more than that Santa, it's as though everyone sees everyone else as fair game, as a target to be exploited.  We need a return to when honesty was a value worth preserving, a value which everyone saw as the underpinning of our living together.  And we need the courage to embrace that value in our public lives, and challenge those that trash it.

Reason.  I'm afraid that rational thought and reasonableness are being threatened Santa.  Facts are no longer important, evidence is irrelevant.  It's as though it's fashionable to be irrational.  We decry thinking, and applaud raw emotion, and that can't serve us long.

Intelligence.  We use to value intelligence Santa.  We use to understand that what we called being "smart" was a good thing; that as human beings, use of our faculties and cognitive thinking to meet the challenges we face was to be lauded.  We use to put a premium on the evolution of our brains, but now that seems something to fear, to make fun of and disparage. It's almost as though being stupid is "cool", or at the very least it just doesn't matter.

Sanity.  Santa, a certain malaise, a form of insanity, seems to have engulfed the world.  It's hard to offer any other explanation for the things people are doing, then that sanity is on the wane.  It's like a collective mental breakdown is at hand.  We need to restore basic sanity to the world somehow.

Tolerance.  Intolerance has gripped the planet Santa.  Everywhere dogma rules thinking.  It seems nowhere any longer are people willing to live and let live, nowhere are people willing to let other people have any beliefs different from their own.  At the very least Santa, we need some decency in this world, where people can find it within themselves to mutually allow other people to live their lives with just a modicum of respect.  It's become far too easy to demonize all the "others" in the world, and dismiss them as the enemy, and that Santa has resulted in increased cruelty and indifference everywhere.  We won't survive if that continues.

Maturity.  Santa, it seems like too many of the adults in the world are acting like petulant, spoiled children, and this immaturity is celebrated rather than criticized.  We desperately need to bring back some maturity to how we act - especially by our public officials.  We don't just need a grown up in the room, we need everyone in the room to be a grown up.

Art.  This is a very personal and selfish item on my list Santa,  I include it because art is one of the few things left that speak to our higher instincts and better qualities.  Art represents an affirmation of life; it's our appreciation of  beauty and a manifestation of our more lofty aspirations.  Our souls and spirits need the kind of nourishing that art provides.

Sensitivity.  There is too little caring in this world now Santa.  We need more compassion for our fellow human beings, and to encourage people to act to help where possible.  Suffering is so ubiquitous that we've become indifferent.  Callousness ill serves our species.  No one person can save the world Santa, but together, we might.  A little goodness in the collective psyche might be a start.

Merry Christmas Santa.  Can you help?

I know my list is usually beyond what you do, but I and the world are desperate Santa.  It will take a miracle for my wish list to come true, but your very existence is a miracle - you are the very embodiment of all the things I'm asking for.  

And it's all these things that are essential Santa, if we are ever to truly have PEACE ON EARTH AND GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN.

Thanks Santa.   And if these things don't come to pass right away,  I understand Santa that it's each of our jobs to try to get us there somehow.  


Merry Christmas, and the Happiest of Holidays to you all.

Don't Quit
Barry


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Stallone Passes on the NEA Gig

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on......................"

Media reports that, though flattered, Sylvester Stallone has said that "he thinks he'd be better suited for a role helping veterans", and has thus apparently removed his name from consideration as Chair of the NEA.

So now where does that leave us?  If the original stories are true (and who knows what is and what isn't true today), and Trump wanted Stallone for the NEA job, then that means the Endowment is on his radar screen.  Or somebody's on the transition team.  I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

And if it's true that Trump thought Stallone, as an 'A' Lister from Hollywood, would bring a needed cachet to the agency, now what does he do?  His list of 'A' (or even 'B' or 'C') celebrity supporters seems on the short side, (if the stories of his difficulties in attracting performers for his inauguration are true), and so what's his next logical choice?

Andrea Bocelli had been scheduled to perform, and Trump apparently loves him, but due to public pressure has backed out.  Maybe he would look favorably on the NEA appointment.

Otherwise, it may be down to:   Ted Nugent or  Scott Baio.

Of course, there are untold numbers of very qualified nonprofit arts leaders who could effectively helm the agency, but it seems a long shot that they would have a real chance.  If it's an inside game, then maybe Michael Kaiser is on the short list - as he is close to Department of Education Secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos.  There may be others of whom we aren't aware.

I liked the Stallone appointment and thought it would go a long way to keeping the agency's critics and detractors from pushing to defund or eliminate it.  Without a Stallone, are those forces emboldened again?

Who knows.

Have a nice week.

Don't Quit
Barry  



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rumor: Trump Favors Sylvester Stallone for NEA Chair

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on.........................."

BREAKING NEWS.

Two developments that might impact the field:

First, the bad news: Trump's pick for his budget director is a slash and cut guy who favors deep cuts to balance the budget.  See article here.  By itself, this might indicate that arts funding could be in trouble, as it would likely be one of those items the new budget director would have on his list to get the axe.

Second, news broke in the last two days indicating that Trump will offer the Chairmanship of the NEA to Sylvester Stallone, and that Stallone would take the offer.  Though denied as a "done deal" by the Trump Transition team, what gives this report some credibility is that it was reported not only by Fox News and others, but by the Breibart site (the "news" site of Trump's senior White House advisor).

Irrespective of what you may think of Mr. Stallone, or his credentials, this appointment, if it happens, might very well be a positive development for the arts.  First, Stallone is an actor and painter, and aside from any detractor's negative assessments of his talent or skill at each, I think it clear he would bring a sensibility to the post as someone who both values the arts on a personal basis, and sees their value and relevance to society at large.  Plus, he has had great success and enjoys enormous contacts within the entertainment industry, and that experience might be useful as the arts have tried for years to build bridges between the ecosystems.  And like former NEA Chair, Rocco Landesman, who did not have a nonprofit arts background, but came from Broadway, and who did, in my estimation, an excellent job, I believe Mr. Stallone might well be an inspired choice.  And he just may have the ability to eventually increase federal funding for the arts, and more importantly, raise public awareness and valuation.

Moreover, with his professional and public cachet, and as Trump's friend, and having Trump's backing, his appointment would go a long way to protect the agency from those in Congress and the conservative right who would like to see it eliminated or at least severely cut back.

For those reasons, I could easily see supporting this choice.

Have a good week.

Don't Quit
Barry