For the March 4, 2017, episode of “PopSmart NOLA,” we decided to focus entirely on one subject: funding for the arts. It will hopefully be the first of several conversations about the subject, as it appears that, among many other things, funding cuts loom on the horizon thanks to early signals from the new Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress.
No sooner did Donald Trump get sworn in as the 45th president of the United States that a story published by The Hill suggested the administration with the help of Congress begin the downsizing or elimination of funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Soon after supporters of the Arts Council of New Orleans received an email noting this possible action, and calling for a push-back, and it included a series of steps in alliance with Americans for the Arts Action Fund. Here to discuss the situation, our guests:
Nick Stillman is president and CEO of the Arts Council New Orleans. He has served as the Visiting Critic of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of New Orleans. Prior to that, he was Managing Editor of BOMB magazine in New York. Between 2006-2007, Stillman curated eight exhibitions at PS1 Institute of Contemporary Art in New York, including the debut museum solo shows by Kalup Linzy, Amy Granat, and Joe Bradley as a member of the museum’s initial cohort of Curatorial Advisors. Stillman is also active as an art critic, regularly contributing to Artforum, Pelican Bomb, and several other publications. Arts Council New Orleans is a private, multidisciplinary, nonprofit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council’s mission is to support arts and culture and demonstrate how they transform communities.
James William Boyd. Chief Executive Officer with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) since July 2012, Boyd has enjoyed a varied career as an administrator, performer, and educator. Prior to his engagement with the LPO, Boyd was Director of Artistic Planning and Production with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Hallmarks from Boyd’s time in Tucson include a special program in celebration of the State of Arizona’s centennial, featuring a photo-choreographed version of the Grand Canyon Suite by James Westwater (a co-commission with the Phoenix Symphony) as well as the stabilization and expansion of the orchestra’s primary symphonic and chamber orchestra series.
And finally, Gene Meneray, co-founder of The Ella Project, a statewide arts business and legal pro bono program that serves artists, musicians, and grassroots nonprofits. He is also Director of the Louisiana Crafts Guild, and serves as Chair of Louisiana Citizens for the Arts, the state’s arts advocacy organization, and is Louisiana’s state captain with Americans for the Arts State Arts Action Network.
And also, each week I take an interesting read I found that’s worth sharing with listeners, and found one at the 1tth hour, so speak. While there’s a lot to unpack from this Carnival season, one of the most fascinating aspects flared up when word came Friday that the chief business officer for Tales of the Cocktail was resigning over a comment he apparently made during a Facebook Live video taken during the Zulu parade on Fat Tuesday.
Paul Tuennerman is the wife of Ann Tuennerman, executive director of Tales of the Cocktail, an annual trade convention about all things spirits. While “interviewing” his wife, who is white and who, adhering to Zulu tradition, was wearing blackface, made a comment about how wearing blackface apparently hindered her speaking skills. The combination of Ann Tuennerman wearing blackface and the comment by her husband set off a social media firestorm this past week, leading first to an apology by Ann and the resignation announcement by Paul.
You can read more about it in an article by New Orleans Advocate food writer Ian McNulty. Apparently no one has asked Zulu itself for a comment, though I did make that request via email last night and will check in by phone with their rep over this weekend.
Ann Tuennerman will apparently return to Facebook Live on Monday in a discussion with an African-American bartender who criticized her actions. I’ll have more on that on Sunday. Until then, I’d encourage discussion about all of this, but with the focus of the discussion being generated by the communities, cultures and organizations that created Zulu in the first place. It’s great that people are talking about this, but without the people of color at its center driving the conversation or being at the heart of it, it rings a little hollow.
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Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.
David Boas on “Separation of Art and State” (Cato Institute)
Ian McNulty on Ann and Paul Teunnerman and Tales of the Cocktail (New Orleans Advocate)
Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending (Washington Post)
Trump team prepares dramatic cuts (The Hill)
Arts Council of New Orleans helps national arts organization sound call to fight potential funding cuts under Trump Administration (PopSmart NOLA)