Life (and the arts) in America – where is it heading?

There is nothing quite like live theater.  Being there beats the remote version any day of the week.  Saturday night was no exception watching and hearing Bernadette Peters belting out one Sondheim song after another, with a smattering of Rogers and Hanmerstein  in the mix.  Well, take it from me, “There is Nothing Like a Dame” if the dame is Ms. Peters.  Not only is she broad where a broad should be broad, but she is a great performer with the gusto of Ethel Merman, who originated the Annie Oakley role that Peters portrayed in a Tony-winning revival.  One gets to really appreciate the whole dramatic package…glittering sequined dress, four inch heels, full head of curly red hair bouncing around her ivory skin, and a voice with an operatic range that is singularly her own.  The acoustics and lighting at the Performing Arts Center at Purchase and the camaraderie of eager fans made for a wonderful Broadway moment close to home.

For close-to-home classy moments, check out the “Things to Do” calendar on www.artswestchester.org.

So imagine my upset when I arrived home to a batch of emails about the crisis in  arts funding playing out in Washington, D.C.  Seems like $40 million set aside for innovative arts in education initiatives in needy school districts is threatened as part of the debt ceiling negotiation. One of those programs is in our own City of Mount Vernon. Not just that, but there’s a move to reduce the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) by $43 million…nearly to  oblivion.  So why would the House of Representatives want to eliminate programs like those at SUNY Purchase?  The NEA makes it possible for people all over the country to enjoy works of art and performances close to home at a time when prices of oil are keeping most people close to home. Isn’t it cheaper to bring Peters to Purchase than to bring Westchester to Broadway?  I nodded off wondering: “What drives this will to balance the nation’s budget by reducing the few programs that make life in America the kind of life people all over the world are fighting for?  Beats me.

To send a message to your representative in Washington, D.C., go to: http://capwiz.com/artsusa/issues/alert/?alertid=13209311.

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