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Source Theatre Company and the Mandate of the NEA: a Case Study

  • Mary C. Resing


The controversy in the United States surrounding the funding of ‘offensive‐ and ‘pornographic‐ works by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) has centered on whether or not the organization should espouse a morally conservative outlook in regard to the public funding of artistic works. However, the NEA arguably already pursues conservative policies rooted in its vision of the form, function, and outlook of the arts it exists to serve. The appointment of the actress Jane Alexander as chair of the NEA may have indicated that the organization would become more liberal in its moral stance, but the question remains: can government-supported art be anything but conservative? The following is a case study of one theatre's relationship to the NEA in the context of the Washington, DC, theatre community. The author, Mary C. Resing, is a former business manager of New Playwrights' Theatre in Washington, DC, and a former grant writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently working on her dissertation on the actress-manager Vera Kommissarzhevskaia.



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Notes and References

The author would like to thank John Russell Brown and E. Garland Scott for their encouragement and assistance.

1. Taken from ‘Summary of Project Activity‐, from the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger's Fiscal Year 1990 Organization Grant Application Form NEA-3 (Rev.), p.1.

2. Taken from the ‘Summary of Project Activity‐, from Gala Hispanic Theatre's Fiscal Year 1990 Organization Grant Application Form NEA-3 (Rev.), p. 1.

3. The only actors' survey of its type.

4. The following figures were compiled from play- bills, employment files, old grant applications, and audience surveys provided by Source Theatre Company for the purposes of this study.

5. Quoted from Source's 1986 ‘Historical Information Package‐, p. 2.

6. Source press release, dated 8 June 1982.

7. ‘Uncensored Acts by Consenting Adults‐, statement by Keith Parker, festival brochure, 1987.

8. Keith, Parker, Source Literary Manager, quoted in Source Theatre Company News, 1, No. 3 (Spring 1989).

10. All financial statistics for Gala Hispanic, Woolly Mammoth, and the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger are taken from their unaudited financial statements, obtained from the theatres.


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