Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin defend arts funding in Washington
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In 1992, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin appeared together in the film version of David Mamet’s play ‘Glengarry Glen Ross,’ about a group of downmarket real-estate salesmen in Chicago. On Tuesday, the actors were again pounding the pavement, this time teaming up to generate support for the arts on Capitol Hill.
The event was the 24th annual Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., organized by the nonprofit group Americans for the Arts. Spacey and Baldwin were scheduled to appear before a special hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. But their session was canceled at the last minute, apparently due to time constraints.
Still, the actors managed to draw media attention to the plight of arts funding. Among the proposed cuts in the federal budget is $40 million for an arts education program. Funding for the nation’s three main cultural grantmaking agencies -- the NEA, National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services -- would fall about 13.3% under the proposed federal budget.
Arts funding is also under attack by several Republican politicians, including Sarah Palin, who recently called such expenditures ‘frivolous.’
After the House subcommittee hearing was canceled on Tuesday, Spacey instead gave a version of his prepared testimony to people who had gathered at Capitol Hill, according to the Associated Press. The actor also tweeted throughout the day. ‘ALL States in US benefit from return on arts funding,’ he wrote via Twitter.
On Monday, Spacey delivered the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center. The actor recounted his upbringing in South Orange, N.J., and how a theater workshop with Jack Lemmon persuaded him to pursue a career in acting. (Spacey would later work with Lemmon in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross.’) Past lecturers include Robert Redford, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Wynton Marsalis, Ken Burns, William Safire and Robert MacNeil.
-- David Ng