That was then. Now, heartless Republicans have their sights set on the mimes and accordionists of the world:
A Republican lawmaker on Wednesday grilled the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts over grants to San Francisco mimes and an international accordion festival.
“Those just kind of grants lend themselves to ridicule,” said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. “These are a bit tough to justify…how can we justify these types of grants?”
Flake questioned NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman over a number of grants, including those to an international accordion festival and to the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Making grants like these “feeds the cynicism out there about everything we do,” Flake said.
Landesman responded that many of the programs that win NEA support could not exist without the help.
“The marketplace shouldn’t be the sole determinant of what is allowed to flourish,” Landesman said, adding that the renowned San Francisco Mime Troupe would likely not be able to survive solely on ticket sales.
Flake said he will do anything it takes to kill funding for the accordion festival, a statement that prompted Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) to say that Flake will be getting hate mail from Polish folk musicians.
Members of the “renowned” mime troupe issued the following statement in response: