Does the federal government have a role in promoting the arts? Yes and No. This is a no-win situation for the government. If they give artists blank checks for freedom of expression, it’s almost guaranteed that some portion of the population will be offended by the final product. On the flip-side, if the government gives money with many conditions, it looks like censorship.
There are some programs that are really easy for the general population to accept. For example, the NEA is promoting a program right now to encourage high school students to memorize and perform “great” poems. Sounds good, except the students are required to choose a poem from a pre-approved collection of poems. Very quickly the government is setting the standard for what is allowed in the program. In another program, the NEA is promoting the writing of war-time experiences by soldiers coming home from