Subpar Inaugural Concert Lineup Throws Obama's Commitment to the Arts Into Question
The lineup at Barack Obama's inaugural concert on the Sunday before his inauguration has caused many in the artistic community to question his promise to bring financial and philosophical help, lacking during the Bush administration, to the arts.
Sunday's performers, which included an overweening U2 and a just-barely-relevant Bruce Springsteen, were not the sign of enriching times that underfunded intellectuals, painters, writers, musicians, experimentalists and academics were hoping for, say critics.
"Obviously, [Obama] supports lite-rock radio, but can we trust him to support the classics and emerging forms?" pondered Dana Gioia, leader of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). "Perhaps if he preferred something a little more experimental than Bono -- and we're not even talking [experimental punk rock performer] GG Allin here -- maybe then the arts community could look forward to the Renaissance we were promised."
Gioia later stated that Sunday night's lineup makes him fear that the NEA's funding will be reduced even further if "Garth Brooks singing 'Twist and Shout' is the new President's idea of 'entertainment', let alone 'art'."
Many artists who lent their talents to helping get Obama elected have expressed outrage at what they call a "betrayal", and demanded that the inaugural ball be a more verisimilar show of his support of the arts.
"It's a crime against the humanities!" expressed contortionist Gabe Breslen, a D.C. resident of the DuPont Circle neighborhood, who participated in a human-body spelling of O-B-A-M-A on the Washington Mall on Election Day. "He has basically promised us, via James Taylor, four more years of banality and mediocrity. This may be what finally gets me to bolt for Canada."
Some performance artists, however, have called the concert necessarily mainstream, designed to build consensus rather than force extremist views.
"The performers Obama has publicly endorsed aren't going to satisfy the radical music enthusiast blogs, but they're not supposed to," said MSNBC's Chuck Todd. "Somehow, I'm not sure a concert consisting of an NWA reunion and a few Franz Ferdinand numbers performed by Philip Glass would get the job done."