The National Endowment For The Arts Doesn’t Need Nationalism

So, I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR), at a break in the programming there was one of those “funding for NPR comes from ________” announcements, as usual it named the National Endowment For The Arts (NEA), and it included the NEA slogan:

A Great Nation Deserves Great Art

Now, this has been the NEA’s slogan for quite some time, and I’m REALLY late in noticing it, but for whatever reason it jumped out at me yesterday and totally turned me off.

I kind of agree with Christopher Knight, who wrote in the Los Angeles Times three years ago:

The endowment’s current slogan is “A Great Nation Deserves Great Art.”

Wince. That imperial bit of provincial pomposity has things exactly backward.

Here’s a new NEA motto: “Great Art Makes a Great Nation.”

After all, that is how it works.

But honestly, I could do without the “great nation” part entirely. Hasn’t nationalism already proven itself, over and over and over again, to be a destructive force in the world?

Fortunately, there are signs that, perhaps, the NEA is moving away from that slogan, despite the fact that it is still airing.

Two things point in this direction:

1. There’s no sign of it on the NEA website.

2. Their new logo, as of a couple of years ago, doesn’t contain the slogan, as the older logo shown above does.

Art Works. It’s a pun, sure, but I like it, and it’s almost as if someone at the NEA read Christopher Knight’s comment, “After all, that is how it works.”

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