In his review of the arts in Pittsburgh, Bob Hoover of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, not only reports on some of the bad news--but lo and behold has some good news in the way of interesting critical commentary and good ideas for making some good news!
His analysis of the NEA and how arts funding is being passed around is hopeful that there are still people out there who know and act on the use of arts funding for the good of all. Especially interesting is the Bush funding of the arts and the outgoing head of the NEA, Dana Gioia's, good handling of the well-endowed NEA. Since I am a busy reader I'd been well aware of the Big Read program that spread around the nation in recent years, but hadn't realized that I had the NEA to thank for that. One of my favorite 2008 activities was attending a "conversation" with three Michigan related authors (Richard Ford, Jim Harrison and Tom McGuane) at Michigan State, an offshoot of this program.
In the cutting of the budget for Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Art Festival, Hoover suggests adding authors to the program (isn't writing an art? he asks) instead of more cheese fries. The Detroit Festival of the Arts (dead in the water for 2009) always included authors and partnered with the Detroit Public Library for cultural offerings, so this seems a great idea. Artists, wouldn't you rather have an author next to you than the elephant ears?
Read Hoover's article here: Coming: Rough Year for Local Arts