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JULY 14, 2006 3:25 PM

I am really interested in policy and how it can be used to help the arts, so I am going to try and use my blog to write about arts policy issues. I’m hoping that if I have to put what I know into a public forum, I will be more motivated to stay up-tot-date and accurate on the issues.

The first entry is about the new changes to the grantmaking procedures for MCACA grants. According to media reports (sorry, I’m still trying to track down a link to this story), films in the Ann Arbor Film Festival prompted some members of the state house of Legislators to call for funding guidelines that would disqualify indecent art. While these changes seem to be a bit more stringent, it is important to note that certain content restrictions on funding already existed. Also, this bill doesn’t stop artists from creating the art, it just cannot be funded by the state.

Here are the changes, according to Artserve Michigan. Additions to the existing criteria are bolded.

1. MCACA is to give priority to arts and cultural projects that serve multiple counties, leverage significant additional public or private investment or demonstrate a significant potential to increase tourism or attract or retain businesses or residents.

2. Grant funding will not be used to create or promote a specific work that includes a display or depiction for which funding is prohibited under subdivision (a).

Subdivision (a) the grant will not be used to fund a project or activity that includes a display of human waste on religious symbols, a display of a sex act, or a depiction of flag desecration.

3. The department shall withhold undistributed grant payments from a grant recipient who violates the terms of the agreement and may disqualify the grant recipient from award of future grants for a period of not more than 3 years.

4. Cultural and Ethnic Heritage Centers and Museums have been added as organizations eligible for art grants.

From what I can tell, these are recommended changes that will take affect in the next fiscal year. I made some calls to find out if there is a specific bill attached to these changes, but I got a lot of answering machines and lines that are “no longer in service.” So, yeah, this was a pretty poorly researched one, but hopefully I'll be able to get more information and post it later. I think it is funny that our state's laws have a no "human waste" clause, obviously influenced by Andres Serrano and Chris Ofili.

I don't think the human waste element is the offensive part, per se. But I do think the criterion is rather strange: "No sex acts, flag burning, or making copy-cat Piss Christs and Virgin Mary's with poop." So I guess those Danish cartoons would be fair game?

jdawe | July 15, 2006 11:20 AM

No portraying sex acts? That's crazy. That includes so many independent films.
This inspires me to get a fairly large stipend and carve my poop into little buddha statues. Also does that includes indirect funding! "Grant funding will not be used to create or PROMOTE a specific work that includes..." If a film or work of art was payed for privatly but viewed publicly by a grant funded festival or gallery that would fall under this crazy law.

audrey | July 21, 2006 12:47 AM

Funny you should mention a film festival, because it was the Ann Arbor film festival that sparked all this controversy in the first place.

anthony | August 2, 2006 11:49 AM


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