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Mr. T

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Artists pressured into pushing Obama's agenda


The National Endowment for the Arts initiated a "call to action" earlier this month for members of the art community to push President Obama's recovery agency through works that focus on health care, energy and the environment -- a troubling sign, one artist said


A 39-year-old Los Angeles film producer is accusing the National Endowment for the Arts of initiating a "call to action" to artists to support President Obama's domestic agenda. The film producer, Patrick Courrielche, said he was one of roughly 75 artists, musicians, writers, poets and others on an Aug. 10 conference call hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement and United We Serve, a nationwide initiative launched by Obama to increase volunteerism.


Courrielche said officials on the hour-long call -- including NEA Director of Communications Yosi Sergant and Michael Skolnik, political director for hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons -- encouraged the artists on the line to create works of art in their respective fields related to health care, energy and the environment. "What I heard was a well thought-out pitch to encourage artists to create art on these issues," Courrielche told FOXNews.com. "We were told we were consulted for a reason, and they specifically stated those issues as the issues we should focus on, to plant the seed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what they're attempting to do."


The NEA did not respond to several requests for comment, but others familiar with the conference call dispute Courrielche's version of events, saying the purpose was a broad pitch for artworks on the theme of public service. Siobhan Dugan, a spokeswoman for United We Serve, said the call was organized by an "individual interested" in the group and was unable to provide a list of those invited to participate on the call. "The service that we are encouraging through United We Serve is taking place with no direct tie to any policy initiative, but instead focuses on the areas of the greatest need of our nation and our neighborhoods," Dugan said in a statement to FOXNews.com.


Thomas Bates, vice president of civic engagement for Rock the Vote, confirmed to FOXNews.com he was on the call, saying he was invited by officials at United We Serve. He doesn't agree with Courrielche that there was a political undercurrent. "I don't remember it that way," Bates said. "The call I was on was about engaging artists in ongoing service projects, including on Sept. 11." Bates said his participation in the call revolved around a proposed service event in Chicago that his organization had considered. He did not elaborate.


Full Article HERE

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