Media Arts Program

Tuesday, November 5, 2002


Presented at:

Filmmakers Paul Lamarre and Melissa Wolf will be present at Hallwalls for discussion with panel participants Celeste Lawson, Executive Director of the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County, Ed Taylor, of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Artists' Organizations, and Ed Cardoni, Executive Director of Hallwalls.

THE NEA TAPES show how video can be used to represent under-represented voices, to bring together a broad constituency, to demonstrate democracy. And that's also what "the tapes" are about: how public funding of the arts keeps the possibility of true democracy alive." Catherine Gund-video maker/writer/aids activist.

The one hour documentary film THE NEA TAPES is an engaging and sometimes controversial story that looks at the issues surrounding the NEA: the struggles of contemporary artists, censorship, and public funding of the arts, from many different points of view. The film explores the history and politics of why the National Endowment for the Arts was created; the various controversies and its struggle to fund free expression and diversity.

The filmmakers, Paul Lamarre and Melissa Wolf traveled across the USA documenting and discovering the major events and players in this conflict: Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano, Karen Finley (who will be performing The Distribution of Empathy at Hallwalls, November 7-10, 2002) and the story surrounding the Brooklyn Museum and the Mayor of New York City. The "right wing" is also heard from; including Martin Mawyer, director of the "Christian Action Network" as interviewed while presenting a "degenerate art show" in the Halls of Congress.

Participating in THE NEA TAPES are: the actors, Tim Robbins and Ed Asner; attorney for the Brooklyn Museum, Floyd Abrams; playwright, Edward Albee; actor and former Chairman of the NEA, Jane Alexander; professor of Linguistics at MIT, Noam Chomsky; the artists - Chuck Close, Karen Finley, Andres Serrano, Kiki Smith, Fred Wilson; the late US Representative Sidney R. Yates and many others including Charlie R. Braxton; poet / playwright; Jackson, Mississippi.

A tour of the film (with the filmmakers present) has been scheduled for the following locations; Huntsville, Alabama (October 22); Birmingham, Alabama (October 24); Jackson, Mississippi (October 25); New Orleans, Louisiana (October 27); and two screenings (November 4 and 5) in Buffalo, New York at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and the University of Buffalo.

"I think you did a wonderful job... It's just really incredible; and so important, and so necessary. Thank you for working so hard to liberate and save something that we all hold so dear." Barbara Kopple-filmmaker, director/producer HARLAN COUNTY, winner Academy Award, 1976 for best documentary.

Also visit the web site: for more information, including interview excerpts.

Some publications related to this event:
November and December, 2002 - 2002