There is no chance in hell that Congress will support the arts," Joseph Papp, producer of the New York Shakespeare Festival, said Saturday at the final panel of the Quincy-Holmes Arts Festival.
Many Congressmen, Papp explained, are "pre-historic people who don't unstained the arts and fear them." Instead of making general pleas for federal aid, he asked artists to build up an audience first for their projects. Then, he said, public pressure will force local politicians to help finance them.
Papp pointed to his Central Park Shakespeare Festival, which charges no as an example of how "artististally sound" projects can gain community support. The Festival began in 1955 with $850 raised privately. This year New York City will give it $110,000.
Without advertising, Papp said he his audience on the Lower East Side and added to it by touring New York high schools, including the rough "Many of these people never saw a play before," Papp observed, "and we have a tremendous obligation to make sure that their first play had some value." "Creeping Amateurism" a Danger Ridiculing Secretary of Labor Arthurberg's statistics on the great number performing organizations in the United States, Papp declared: "The greatest danger in the theater is creeping amateurism. We must produce at a high professional level, especially if we seek government funds. The whole idea of art for everybody sounds democratic, but it is anti-artistic."
Hy Faine, national executive secretary of the American Guild of Musical Artists, objected to Papp's pessimism on getting federal aid, and predicted that Congress will establish a Federal Advisory Council on the Arts.
Faine also suggested that performers receive the same fast tax write-offs given to oil wells because their talent is "a nonreplacable item that is depleted rapidly." Unemployment insurance should be extended to artists working for non-profit organizations, Faine added.
On the problem of censorship, Faine agreed with Papp that receiving tax money would not increase attempts at control. "Grants to the arts would function under the same political climate as the rest of the country," Papp said. "There are always attempts to intimidate, dictate, and control even when you don't receive money. But if you develop a public, you become strong and can fight off censorship and enrich our democracy."