#NEA365 and Flux

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 Leave a Comment

At TCG (my goodly employer) yesterday, we posted this call to action on the proposed cuts/zeroing of the NEA in the FY11 budget. The post inspired the goodly David J. Loehr to propose #NEA365, an online compendium of at least 365 projects that would not have been possible without support from the NEA.

Flux receives support from NYSCA, which has received support from the NEA, so indirectly, we've been supported by this besieged agency (and while the grant amount may seem small, to us it truly is essential).

But the impact of the NEA on Flux is more profound than that. It was on an NEA-sponsored Shakespeare tour at Theater at Monmouth that I met Flux co-founder Jason Paradine. Flux would literally not exist without Jason - it was Jason who (inadvertently) named Flux (not to mention, Jason who provided essential leadership and production heroism in these first years). There might be a theatre company, but it wouldn't be called Flux, and it probably wouldn't feel much like Flux, either.

I believe the NEA's real impact is like that: nearly invisible to the millions of lives that it has touched. If the NEA met an angel named Clarence, we wouldn't like the look of Pottersville. I believe that every theatre artist has been touched by the NEA even if they don't know it. Like the work it funds, that impact is as deep and profound as it is hard to see; there are no new highways built by NEA funding, but the road I'm on is paved with its support.

This battle is as old as the Federal Theatre Project, but as Hallie Flanagan said:

“Here is one necessity for our theatre—that it help reshape our American life. Nor do we work, hereafter, alone. We work not in isolated centers, but in a nationwide Federal Theatre. From that union we should gain tremendous strength….Through it we shall mutually create a theatre which need not be just the frosting on the cake. It may be the yeast which makes the bread rise."

The NEA has helped reshape my life; and if the work of Flux matters to you, than it has touched yours. Don't let any worthy criticisms of the NEA obscure the profound impact this agency has had on our country's life; now is the time to live up to Hallie's vision of a nationwide union of theatres with tremendous strength; contact your representatives, and share your stories of how the NEA has impacted you life and community here, there, on your own blogs, and on Twitter with #NEA365.