(Charley Gallay/Getty Images / June 13, 2008)
The $50 million for the NEA is tacked on, and -- when fed into the existing pipeline -- will disappear like water on fresh pavement. These projects have to be visible and bold in their impact on our national psyche in the next year. We don't have time to address fears of becoming labeled (socialist, Maoist, etc.), but we need the stiff hit of a new aesthetic playing through some focused creativity to kick us into new models of who we are. Brand the use of this little pile of money and call it "Fresh Approach." Decree that the projects will go to individuals, not institutions. The individuals' projects must be their response to: How can I be of service to the common good of our citizens? The aesthetic of the art of the New Deal was the answer to a question of who we are. It can still be seen in murals in post offices, travel books by unexpected authors, and our use of terms for theater like "living newspaper." The actual look of the aesthetic of "Fresh Approach" can't be predicted now, but it should give us a caffeine jolt for the huge national endeavor we are beginning that will restate who we are to the world.