I Want My NEA Grant!

Chairman Rocco Landesman

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Washington, D.C.

Dear Chairman Landesman:

With all this fuss on Big, Big and elsewhere over the NEA’s government-funded forays into partisan political propaganda, I thought maybe we could help each other out.

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Right now, you probably want to support some art that addresses vital current issues from a right-wing perspective in order to demonstrate your impartiality (ha ha!), and I just want to cash in your organization’s evident willingness to spend good tax money on any kind of nonsense that can be passed-off as “art” (ca-ching!)

Well, I am uniquely suited to provide you with just what you’re looking for! As a college student, I got a “B” in my Visual Arts 1 class for dressing up a juniper bush in one of my Hawaiian shirts to draw attention to man’s essential oneness with nature while providing a stinging critique of America’s consumerist culture. Sure, my black-clad, Bauhaus-loving classmates protested that I was a fraud who was more concerned with collecting four easy credits than internalizing our professor’s commie insights about how expressionism equals imperialism, but hey – aren’t all great artists rebels? Or, at least, weren’t they before last January 20th?

Just kidding, dude! Anyway, as your organization’s visual arts mission statement says:

Grants in the visual arts support projects undertaken by organizations that encourage individual artistic development, experimentation, and dialogue between artists and the public through exhibitions, residencies, publications, commissions, public art works, conservation, documentation, services to the field, and public programs.

Sounds awesome! Now, I went to the NEA’s grant application site and there’s a long complicated process for getting grants that seems to involve me becoming a federal contractor. Nothing like the government for taking something simple – like you writing me a fat check – and turning it into a bureaucratic death march! Can’t wait until you folks take over health care!

Anyhow, instead I think I’ll just cut to the chase and sketch out my proposed projects for you here. You can fund the one – or ones! – that you like best:

1) My first proposed project is an interpretive dance piece to be performed on the streets of Greenwich Village titled “The Cry of the Employed.”

This innovative performance involves me using motion and song to tell the story of a beleaguered taxpayer forced to subsidize the ridiculous indulgences of pseudo-intellectual no-talents who try to pass off their pretentious junk as art. Dressed in business suit and button-down shirt with a sensible tie, I will confront passing goateed hipsters and pierced bohos, acting out the story of a man who works hard only to have his money siphoned off support the antics of a bunch of pompous deadbeats. My choreography will draw from the traditions of ballet, kabuki and Appalachian folk dance while incorporating maracas and jazz hands. And yes, there will be krumping.

2) My second proposed project is a performance art piece that was going to be called Chocolate Thunder until I Googled it and found that this is the title of a very , very specialized series of erotic videos. Instead, my piece will be called Suburban Fudge. Out of an abundance of caution, I have not Googled this title.

In the tradition of pioneering NEA grant recipient Karen Finley, who famously covered herself in chocolate to demonstrate the corrosive effects of patriarchal hegemony, I plan to slather myself in rich, creamy Hershey’s to demonstrate the glory of corporate America. This act will reaffirm my allegiance to Big Chocolate and underscore my belief that the best hope for American progress is a vigorous, lightly-regulated private sector. Using my body, I will also form a Laffer Curve then engage in some dramatic readings from Milton Friedman’s Free To Choose. And I will personally keep any profits from the performance, an act which itself is central to the integrity of the piece.

3) My third proposed project is an installation that takes Andres Serrano’s infamous Piss Christ, the crucifix in a jar of the artist’s urine, to the next level. I call it Pee Health Care Reform Bill.

Now, the draft health care bill is well over 1000 pages long, so I’m not sure I can personally handle the, uh, logistics of this project. This is where the NEA comes in. I plan to use my grant to buy a keg of frosty Dos Equis Lager for me and my buddies. After we drink it we can, well, get “creative” Serrano-style! We’ll also need limes, and some snacks would be nice too. I think I could get you a final product for, say, $25,000.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my email – though I have to say that as a conservative I am horrified by the fact that there’s an Internet domain out there with the name of “” since the only proper involvement of the government in the arts is not to have any role at all. Well, guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that, right?

I sure hope you dig my personal vision enough to cut me a check – just don’t forget the second “h” in “Schlichter” on the payee line! And remember, because I’m a heterosexual right-wing gun-owning veteran with a real job, you’ll be able to check several important diversity boxes for your organization for the first time in its illustrious history!

I’m looking forward to seeing you at the premiere of Suburban Fudge, but don’t forget to bring a jacket – the first three rows will get wet!


Kurt A. Schlichter

Future Performance Artist


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