Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil is a Quebecer entertainment company and the largest theatrical producer in the world. Based in Montreal, Quebec and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul on 7 July 1984, by two former street performers, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix. Named Les Échassiers, they toured Quebec in 1980 as a performing troupe, their initial financial hardship was relieved in 1983 by a government grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, as part of the 450th anniversary celebrations of Jacques Cartier's voyage to Canada. Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil was a success in 1984, after securing a second year of funding, Laliberté hired Guy Caron from the National Circus School to recreate it as a "proper circus", its theatrical, character-driven approach and the absence of performing animals helped define Cirque du Soleil as the contemporary circus that it remains today. Each show is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world, with its own central theme and storyline.
Shows employ continuous live music, with performers rather than stagehands changing the props. After financial successes and failures in the late 1980s, Nouvelle Expérience was created – with the direction of Franco Dragone – which not only made Cirque du Soleil profitable by 1990, but allowed it to create new shows. Cirque du Soleil expanded through the 1990s and 2000s, going from one show to 19 shows in over 271 cities on every continent except Antarctica; the shows employ 4,000 people from over 40 countries and generate an estimated annual revenue exceeding US$810 million. The multiple permanent Las Vegas shows alone play to more than 9,000 people a night, 5% of the city's visitors, adding to the 90 million people who have experienced Cirque du Soleil worldwide. In 2000, Laliberté bought out Gauthier, with 95% ownership, has continued to expand the brand. In 2008, Laliberté split 20% of his share between two investment groups Istithmar World and Nakheel of Dubai, in order to further finance the company's goals.
In partnership with these two groups, Cirque du Soleil had planned to build a residency show in the United Arab Emirates in 2012 directed by Guy Caron and Michael Curry. However, following Dubai's financial problems in 2010 caused by the 2008 recession, Laliberté stated that the project had been "put on ice". Several more shows are in development around the world, as well as a television deal, a women's clothing line, possible ventures into other mediums such as spas and nightclubs. Cirque du Soleil produces a small number of private and corporate events each year; the company's creations have received numerous prizes and distinctions, including a Bambi Award in 1997. In 2000, Cirque du Soleil was awarded the National Arts Centre Award, a companion award of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.. In 2015, TPG Capital, Fosun Industrial Holdings and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec purchased 90% of Cirque du Soleil; the sale received regulatory approval from the Government of Canada on 30 June 2015.
At age 18, interested in pursuing some kind of performing career, Guy Laliberté quit college and left home. He toured Europe as busker. By the time he returned home to Canada in 1979, he had learned the art of fire breathing. Although he became "employed" at a hydroelectric power plant in James Bay, his job ended after only three days due to a labour strike, he decided not to look instead supporting himself on his unemployment insurance. He helped organize a summer fair in Baie-Saint-Paul with the help of a pair of friends named Daniel Gauthier and Gilles Ste-Croix. Gauthier and Ste-Croix were managing a youth hostel for performing artists named Le Balcon Vert at that time. By the summer of 1979, Ste-Croix had been developing the idea of turning the Balcon Vert and the talented performers who lived there into an organized performing troupe; as part of a publicity stunt to convince the Quebec government to help fund his production, Ste-Croix walked the 56 miles from Baie-Saint-Paul to Quebec City on stilts.
The ploy worked. Employing many of the people who would make up Cirque du Soleil, Les Échassiers toured Quebec during the summer of 1980. Although well received by audiences and critics alike, Les Échassiers was a financial failure. Laliberté spent that winter in Hawaii plying his trade while Ste-Croix stayed in Quebec to set up a nonprofit holding company named "The High-Heeled Club" to mitigate the losses of the previous summer. In 1981, they met with better results. By that fall, Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul had broken even; the success inspired Laliberté and Ste-Croix to organize a summer fair in their hometown of Baie-Saint-Paul. This touring festival, called "La Fête Foraine", first took place in July 1982. La Fête Foraine featured workshops to teach the circus arts to the public, after which those who participated could take part in a performance; the festival was barred from its own hosting town after complaints from local citizens. Laliberté managed
Visa Inc. is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Foster City, United States. It facilitates electronic funds transfers throughout the world, most through Visa-branded credit cards, gift cards, debit cards. Visa does not extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. In 2015, the Nilson Report, a publication that tracks the credit card industry, found that Visa's global network processed 100 billion transactions during 2014 with a total volume of US$6.8 trillion. Visa has operations across all continents worldwide with the exception of Antarctica. Nearly all Visa transactions worldwide are processed through VisaNet at one of four secure facilities; the data centers are located in Ashburn, Highlands Ranch, Colorado and Singapore. The data centers are secured against natural disasters and terrorism; every transaction is checked past 500 variables including 100 fraud-detection parameters—such as the location and spending habits of the customer and the merchant's location – before being accepted.
Visa is the world's second-largest card payment organization, after being surpassed by China UnionPay in 2015, based on annual value of card payments transacted and number of issued cards. Because UnionPay's size is based on the size of its domestic market, Visa is dominant in the rest of the world outside of China, with 50% market share of global card payments minus China. In mid-September 1958, Bank of America launched its BankAmericard credit card program in Fresno, with an initial mass mailing of 60,000 unsolicited credit cards; the original idea was the brainchild of BofA's in-house product development think tank, the Customer Services Research Group, its leader, Joseph P. Williams. Williams convinced senior BofA executives in 1956 to let him pursue what became the world's first successful mass mailing of unsolicited credit cards to a large population. Williams' pioneering accomplishment was that he brought about the successful implementation of the all-purpose credit card, not in coming up with the idea.
By the mid-1950s, the typical middle-class American maintained revolving credit accounts with several different merchants, inefficient and inconvenient due to the need to carry so many cards and pay so many separate bills each month. The need for a unified financial instrument was evident to the American financial services industry, but no one could figure out how to do it. There were charge cards like Diners Club, "by the mid-1950s, there had been at least a dozen attempts to create an all-purpose credit card." However, these prior attempts had been carried out by small banks which lacked the resources to make them work. Williams and his team studied these failures and believed they could avoid replicating those banks' mistakes. Fresno was selected for its population of 250,000, BofA's market share of that population, relative isolation, to control public relations damage in case the project failed; the 1958 test at first went smoothly, but BofA panicked when it confirmed rumors that another bank was about to initiate its own drop in San Francisco, BofA's home market.
By March 1959, drops began in San Sacramento. However, the program was riddled with problems, as Williams had been too earnest and trusting in his belief in the basic goodness of the bank's customers, he resigned in December 1959. 22% of accounts were delinquent, not the 4% expected, police departments around the state were confronted by numerous incidents of the brand new crime of credit card fraud. Both politicians and journalists joined the general uproar against Bank of America and its newfangled credit card when it was pointed out that the cardholder agreement held customers liable for all charges those resulting from fraud. BofA lost over $8.8 million on the launch of BankAmericard, but when the full cost of advertising and overhead was included, the bank's actual loss was around $20 million. However, after Williams and some of his closest associates left, BofA management realized that BankAmericard was salvageable, they conducted a "massive effort" to clean up after Williams, imposed proper financial controls, published an open letter to 3 million households across the state apologizing for the credit card fraud and other issues their card raised, were able to make the new financial instrument work.
The original goal of BofA was to offer the BankAmericard product across California, but in 1966, BofA began to sign licensing agreements with a group of banks outside of California, in response to a new competitor, Master Charge, which had be
Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U. S. state of Tennessee. The city is located on the Cumberland River; the city's population ranks 24th in the U. S. According to 2017 estimates from the U. S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 691,243; the "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 667,560 in 2017. Located in northern Middle Tennessee, Nashville is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in Tennessee; the 2017 population of the entire 14-county Nashville metropolitan area was 1,903,045. The 2017 population of the Nashville—Davidson–Murfreesboro–Columbia combined statistical area, a larger trade area, was 2,027,489. Named for Francis Nash, a general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, the city was founded in 1779; the city grew due to its strategic location as a port and railroad center. Nashville seceded with Tennessee during the American Civil War and in 1862 became the first state capital to fall to Union troops.
After the war the city developed a manufacturing base. Since 1963, Nashville has had a consolidated city-county government, which includes six smaller municipalities in a two-tier system; the city is governed by a mayor, a vice-mayor, a 40-member metropolitan council. Reflecting the city's position in state government, Nashville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for Middle Tennessee. Nashville is a center for the music, publishing, private prison and transportation industries, is home to numerous colleges and universities such as Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Fisk University, Lipscomb University. Entities with headquarters in the city include Asurion, Bridgestone Americas, Captain D's, CoreCivic, Dollar General, Hospital Corporation of America, LifeWay Christian Resources, Logan's Roadhouse, Ryman Hospitality Properties; the town of Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, a party of Overmountain Men in 1779, near the original Cumberland settlement of Fort Nashborough.
It was named for the American Revolutionary War hero. Nashville grew because of its strategic location, accessibility as a port on the Cumberland River, a tributary of the Ohio River. By 1800, the city had 345 residents, including 136 enslaved African Americans and 14 free African-American residents. In 1806, Nashville was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1843, the city was named as the permanent capital of the state of Tennessee; the city government of Nashville owned 24 slaves by 1831, 60 prior to the war. They were "put to work to build the first successful water system and maintain the streets." The cholera outbreak that struck Nashville in 1849–1850 took the life of former U. S. President James K. Polk. There were 311 deaths from cholera in 1849 and an estimated 316 to about 500 in 1850. By 1860, when the first rumblings of secession began to be heard across the South, antebellum Nashville was a prosperous city; the city's significance as a shipping port made it a desirable prize as a means of controlling important river and railroad transportation routes.
In February 1862, Nashville became the first state capital to fall to Union troops. The state was occupied by Union troops for the duration of the war; the Battle of Nashville was a significant Union victory and the most decisive tactical victory gained by either side in the war. Afterward, the Confederates conducted a war of attrition, making guerrilla raids and engaging in small skirmishes, with the Confederate forces in the Deep South constantly in retreat. In 1868, a few years after the Civil War, the Nashville chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was founded by Confederate veteran John W. Morton. Chapters of this secret insurgent group formed throughout the South. In 1873 Nashville suffered another cholera epidemic, as did towns throughout Sumner County along railroad routes and the Cumberland River. Meanwhile, the city had reclaimed its important shipping and trading position and developed a solid manufacturing base; the post–Civil War years of the late 19th century brought new prosperity to Nashville and Davidson County.
These healthy economic times left the city with a legacy of grand classical-style buildings, including the Parthenon in Centennial Park, near downtown. On April 30, 1892, Ephraim Grizzard, an African-American man, was lynched in a spectacle murder in front of a white mob of 10,000 in Nashville, his lynching was described by journalist Ida B. Wells as: "A naked, bloody example of the blood-thirstiness of the nineteenth century civilization of the Athens of the South." From 1877 to 1950, a total of six lynchings of blacks were conducted in Davidson County, most in the county seat of Nashville near the turn of the century. By the turn of the century, Nashville had become the cradle of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, as the first chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was founded here and the Confederate Veteran magazine was published here. Most "guardians of the Lost Cause" lived near Centennial Park. At the same time, Jefferson Street became the historic center of the African-American community.
It remained so until the federal government s
Performance Space New York
Performance Space New York known as Performance Space 122 or P. S. 122, is a not-for-profit arts organization and one of the longest standing venues dedicated to contemporary performance art in New York City. Founded in 1980 in the abandoned Public School 122 building at 150 First Avenue at East 9th Street in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, Performance Space New York has hosted thousands of world-premiere and ongoing works by such artists as Eric Bogosian, Spalding Gray, Karen Finley, Penny Arcade, Eddie Izzard, John Leguizamo, DANCENOISE, John Jesurun, Ethyl Eichelberger, Ron Athey, niv Acosta, Big Dance Theater, Annie Dorsen, Elevator Repair Service, Tim Etchells, Lawrence Goldhuber, Maria Hassabi, Emily Johnson, Taylor Mac, Sarah Michelson, Rabih Mroué, Okwui Okpokwasili, Julie Atlas Muz, Reggie Watts, Adrienne Truscott, companies such as Big Art Group, Proto-type Theater, Young Jean Lee's Theater Company and New York City Players, Viveca Vázquez, as well as countless other emerging artists.
The former elementary school was abandoned and in disrepair when a group of visual artists began to use the old classrooms for studios. In 1979, choreographer Charles Moulton began holding rehearsals and workshops in the second floor cafeteria, invited fellow performers Charles Dennis, John Bernd and Peter Rose to collaborate in the administration and use of the space. Tim Miller, John Bernd's lover joined the four in launching P. S. 122. One of the earliest programmatic offerings created by the founders and choreographer Stephanie Skura, was Open Movement, a non-performative, weekly improvisational dance event. Early participants in Open Movement included artists Ishmael Houston-Jones, Yvonne Meier, Jennifer Monson, Yoshiko Chuma, Jennifer Miller, Christopher Knowles, among other acclaimed dance and performance artists still working today. P. S. 122 began its presentation history in 1980 with the first "Avant-Garde-Arama", a multidisciplinary showcase, published its first complete calendar of performances and workshops.
The first full-length public play or performance presented in P. S. 122, in October 1980, was a play by Robin Epstein and Dorothy Cantwell's experimental women's theater company, More Fire! Productions. Mark Russell was hired as artistic director in 1983 to curate and focus the overall programming, expanding it from a rental house into a year-round presenting facility. P. S. 122 doubled its programming in 1986 when it converted the old gym on the first floor into a performance space to be used for extended runs of small theatre groups and as a site for community meetings. Russell departed in 2004. In 2005, Performance Space 122 was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. In 2011, Performance Space 122 embarked on an extensive $37 million renovation of its building, with major funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
During the six-year process, Performance Space 122 held programming at partner venues across New York City, including Danspace Project, The Chocolate Factory, Abrons Arts Center, The Invisible Dog Art Center, La MaMa ETC, others, operating from administrative office spaces based in Brooklyn. Performance Space New York's revamped spaces reopened in January 2018 with the premiere of “visions of beauty” by choreographer Heather Kravas, held as part of the 2018 COIL Festival. In 2017, former MoMA PS1 curator Jenny Schlenzka was named as Gantner’s successor as executive artistic director, the first female director in the organization’s history. Coinciding with the reopening of its building, the organization announced its updated name of Performance Space New York, its updated name “is signaling an ambition to be relevant and accessible to all of New York,” in Schlenzka’s words, collaborate with the local community in its programs. Schlenzka’s first full season of programming begins in February-June 2018, with a series of performances, film screenings, other presentations themed around the East Village.
The series will pay homage to Performance Space New York’s history as well as involve emerging artists and collectives reflective of the neighborhood today. Performance Space New York now boasts two theaters, presents dance, performance art, exhibitions and film and video, it has a professional technical and administrative staff, an active commission program. Both theater spaces feature state of the art technical inventory and are flexible; the large theater features a playing space of 65' wide by 65' deep. The Neilma Sidney Theatre has a 12’ grid height and a playing space, 18’ wide by 63’ deep. Performance Space New York's new logo and identity was created by acclaimed artist Sarah Ortmeyer. Performance Space New York supports two ongoing artist awards, The Spalding Gray Award, The Ethyl Eichelberger Award; the Spalding Gray Award, named after the groundbreaking monologist Spalding Gray, is sponsored by a consortium that includes Kathleen Russo, Gray’s widow. The Award comes with a $20,000 commission to create a new work and provides for a full production of that work presented by each organization.
Past recipients include Tim Etchells, Richard Maxwell, Rabih Mroué, Young Jean Lee, National Theater of the United States of America and Heather Woodbury. The Ethyl Eichelberger Awar
Varekai was a Cirque du Soleil touring production that premiered in Montréal in April 2002. Its title means "wherever" in the Romani language, the show is an "acrobatic tribute to the nomadic soul"; the show begins with the Greek myth of Icarus, picking up where the myth leaves off, reimagining the story of what happened to Icarus after he flew too close to the sun and fell from the sky. In Varekai, rather than drowning in the sea below him, Icarus lands in a lush forest full of exotic creatures; the set, created by Stéphane Roy, includes four major components: the forest, stage and lookout. The forest consists of 330 "trees"; the trees range from 4.5 metres to 10.5 metres in height. The stage is 12.8 metres in diameter and has five trap doors, two turntables, one elevating platform. The catwalk allows performers to cross over the stage. 95 people travel with the Varekai tour. During each engagement in a city, anywhere from 80 - 100 people are hired locally for temporary jobs during the week but for load-in and load-out.
The cast and crew is an international one. The cast of Varekai includes many unique characters. Icarus: Innocent and vulnerable, he finds himself wounded in an unknown world, his desire to live and overcome his fears will drive him to an eventual rebirth. The Betrothed: An exotic creature who enraptures Icarus with her sensual beauty, she will be his guiding light and he, in turn, will be the catalyst for her metamorphosis. The Guide: Weathered by the sun of many centuries, he’s like a kindly, fragile great-grandfather—a wise old man whose mission is to inspire and bring about change; the Skywatcher: Mad scientist and ingenious inventor, collector of the world’s memories and interpreter of signs, this is a man who receives signals, transforms sounds and forewarns of trials and tribulations. He lives perched on the edge of his laboratory-nest. Candide Kamikaze L'Écureuil Blue Lizard Ermite La Toupie Lizard Mafioso Magioso Limping Angel Clowns: A comedic duo who like to ruin the artistic flow of the show.
The Patriarch The Muse The Mother Algea Na Water Meteor Flight of Icarus: Icarus falls from the sky into the forest of Varekai. He performs an act in an Aerial Net. Synchronized Tumbling: Acrobatics jump and turn on an inflatable mat in perfect synchronization; this act replaced Icarian Games as of 2015. Dance Trapeze: Suspended high above the stage, a woman performs and contorts in a solo trapeze. Magic Act: Claudio & Mooky try to perform a magic act. Georgian Dance: This act takes its inspiration from the traditional dances of Caucasus Mountains and includes elements from several mountain dances of the region. Although the act is called Georgian dance by Cirque du Soleil, it is the dance of Northern Caucasus Nations just like Circassians and Chechenians. Performed in the show by former soloists of Georgian State Dance Company. Slippery Surface: Darting and sliding on a specially designed surface, the artists fling and catch each other, creating an illusion of skating. Lounge Singer: Claudio sings Ne Me Quitte Pas while trying to stay in the spotlight, Literally.
Solo on Crutches: Like a jointed puppet, the Limping Angel performs on crutches, sliding around the stage. Aerial Straps: Two performers fly above the stage, suspended by aerial straps. Cyr Wheel: The roue Cyr involves a solo artist spinning and inversions. Lightbulb: Always on the lookout for new inventive ways to mess or interfere in the life of the inhabitants of the forest, the Skywatcher helps the Guide in a dire situation. Handbalancing on Canes: La Promise performs an act contorting and spinning gracefully on canes. Russian Swing: Acrobatics fly up into the air and down onto a net, being propelled by two Russian Swings; the performers flip and glide into the net, as well as jumping onto the performers shoulders, as well as jumping from one Russian swing to another. Batons: A world champion baton performer throws and manipulates up to 3 batons at once while performing acrobatics. Icarian Games: Icarian Games is one of the oldest circus arts disciplines. One of the performer lies on his back and flips and spins another performer on his feet.
This act was replaced by Synchronized Tumbling in 2015. Acrobatic Pas de Deux: Two lovers dance and perform acrobatic stunts, showing their love and respect for each other; this act was replaced by the rotational Aerial Hoop act. Water Meteors: Three young acrobatics perform an act using water meteors and juggling them; this act was replaced by Dance Trapeze. Triple Trapeze: Four young women perform an act on a suspended Triple Trapeze; this act was taken out. Aerial hoop: A solo artist flies over the stage on a hoop suspended in the air in an energetic feat of acrobatics; this was a backup act from 2004, was taken out of the show in early 2013. Juggling: An artist manipulates bowling pins, soccer balls and ping-pong balls with his hands, feet and his mouth; this act was removed in 2016. Varekai's costume designer, Eiko Ishioka, set out to design the costumes to heighten the sense of risk and danger the artists face while performing their acts; the designs are an approach to give the traditional leotard a new shape.
Eiko drew inspiration from the natural world: plant life, land animals, marine life, water and wood. While there are over 130 costumes in the entire collection, over 600 elements combine to make the entire wardrobe of costumes, shoes and accessories. Duri
Teatro de la Ciudad
The Teatro de la Ciudad was built as the "Teatro Esperanza Iris" in 1918 and is now one of Mexico City’s public venues for cultural events. The theater is located in the historic center of Mexico City on Donceles Street 36; the current theater building was constructed on the site of the prior Teatro Xicoténcatl. It was named after diva Esperanza Iris. Iris, born María Esperanza Bonfil, was an operetta singer from the state of Tabasco active in the early 20th century, her career was most successful in Mexico City and Madrid, but she toured extensively in the Americas. Some of her best known works are El conde de Luxemburgo and La princesa del dólar, she acted in a number of films in the 1930s. The theatre was funded by Iris, from earnings from a recent tour; the architects were Capetillo Servín and Federico Mariscal who based the work on the La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was opened on 25 May 1918, two days after the Mexican singer returned from South America; the event was attended by his cabinet.
The opening work was a staging of the play La Duquesa del Bal-Tabarín and Iris herself sand some of the musical numbers. After its opening, it was the most important cultural venue in the city, until the long-postponed opening of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in the 1930s. Despite the ongoing war in Mexico, Iris manage to attract a number of international stars to the theatre, including Enrico Caruso and Anna Pavlova. Iris lived in the foyer of the building for some time during her life and had her own private box for viewing productions in which she was not a part. However, by the time Iris died in 1962, the theater was abandoned. In 1976, the theater became the property of the city to use for the promotion of cultural events, changing the name to the Teatro de la Ciudad. Initial efforts to remodel the theater led to a fire caused by an electrical spark; this fire destroyed a large portion of the building, it was shut down until restoration work was reinitiated in 1999. This work continued until 2002.
The infrastructure was reinforced. All of the decorated elements such as columns, sculptures and main stage were either replaced or extensively remodeled. In addition, technical aspects of the theatre were modernized and some acoustic problems were remedied. In 2008, the city returned the name of Esperanza Iris to the theater’s name and added a space for cabaret productions as well. Today, the theater hosts concerts and presentation by individual artists and groups from Mexico and other countries; some of these include Pablo Milanés, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Betsy Pecdanins, Lila Downs and Alberto Cortez. In May 2010, the theater’s 92nd anniversary was celebrated with Mexico’s traditional birthday song, "Las Mañanitas", music by the Barandela Big Band, members of the theatrical community and the public; the celebration was part of the Mexico’s Bicentennial celebrations
National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. It was created by an act of the U. S. Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government; the NEA has its offices in Washington, D. C, it was awarded Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre in 1995, as well as the Special Tony Award in 2016. The NEA is "dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both established. Between 1965 and 2008, the agency has made in excess of 128,000 grants, totaling more than $5 billion. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Congress granted the NEA an annual funding of between $160 and $180 million. In 1996, Congress cut the NEA funding to $99.5 million as a result of pressure from conservative groups, including the American Family Association, who criticized the agency for using tax dollars to fund controversial artists such as Barbara DeGenevieve, Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, the performance artists known as the "NEA Four".
Since 1996, the NEA has rebounded with a 2015 budget of $146.21 million. For FY 2010, the budget reached the level it was at during the mid-1990s at $167.5 million but fell again in FY 2011 with a budget of $154 million. The NEA is governed by a Chairman appointed by the President to a four-year term and confirmed by Congress; the NEA's advisory committee, the National Council on the Arts, advises the Chairman on policies and programs, as well as reviewing grant applications, fundraising guidelines, leadership initiative. This body consists of 14 individuals appointed by the President for their expertise and knowledge in the arts, in addition to six ex officio members of Congress who serve in a non-voting capacity. On June 12, 2014, Dr. Jane Chu was confirmed as the 11th Chair of the NEA by the Senate, after having been nominated by President Barack Obama in February of the same year; the NEA offers grants in the categories of: 1) Grants for Arts Projects, 2) National Initiatives, 3) Partnership Agreements.
Grants for Arts Projects support exemplary projects in the discipline categories of artist communities, arts education, design and traditional arts, local arts agencies, media arts, music, musical theater, presenting and visual arts. The NEA grants individual fellowships in literature to creative writers and translators of exceptional talent in the areas of prose and poetry; the NEA has partnerships in the areas of state and regional, international activities, design. The state arts agencies and regional arts organizations are the NEA's primary partners in serving the American people through the arts. Forty percent of all NEA funding goes to regional arts organizations. Additionally, the NEA awards three Lifetime Honors: NEA National Heritage Fellowships to master folk and traditional artists, NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships to jazz musicians and advocates, NEA Opera Honors to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to opera in the United States; the NEA manages the National Medal of Arts, awarded annually by the President.
Artist William Powhida has noted that "in one single auction, wealthy collectors bought a billion dollars in contemporary art at Christie's in New York." He further commented: "If you had a 2 percent tax just on the auctions in New York you could double the NEA budget in two nights." The NEA is the federal agency responsible for recognizing outstanding achievement in the arts. It does this by awarding three lifetime achievement awards; the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the art of jazz. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships is awarded for artistic excellence and accomplishments for American's folk and traditional arts; the National Medal of Arts is awarded by the President of the United States and NEA for outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth and availability of the arts in the United States. Upon entering office in 1981, the incoming Ronald Reagan administration intended to push Congress to abolish the NEA over a three-year period.
Reagan's first director of the Office of Management and Budget, David A. Stockman, thought the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities were "good to bring to a halt because they went too far, they would be easy to defeat." Another proposal would have halved the arts endowment budget. However, these plans were abandoned when the President's special task force on the arts and humanities, which included close Reagan allies such as conservatives Charlton Heston and Joseph Coors, discovered "the needs involved and benefits of past assistance," concluding that continued federal support was important. Frank Hodsoll became the chairman of the NEA in 1981, while the department's budget decreased from $158.8 million in 1981 to $143.5 million, by 1989 it was $169.1 million, the highest it had been. In 1989, Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association held a press conference attacking what he called "anti-Christian bigotry," in an exhibition by photographer Andres Serrano; the work at the center of the controversy was Piss Christ, a photo of a plastic crucifix submerged in a vial of an amber fluid described by the artist as his own urine.
Republican Senators Jesse Helms and Al D'Amato began to rally against the NEA, expanded the attack to include other artists. Prominent conservative Christian figures including Pat Robertson of the 700 Club and Pat Buchanan joined the attacks. Republican representative Dick Armey, an opponent of federal arts funding, began