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Arts Endowment Resolves Grants

December 19, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Endowment for the Arts has resolved two controversial grant proposals that had been put on hold by its acting chairman, approving one and rejecting the other.

The agency, which suffered heavy budget cuts in the 1990s after some members of Congress objected to projects they considered obscene, approved a $60,000 grant for a production of a new Tony Kushner play about Afghanistan, ``Homebody/Kabul.″

Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play ``Angels in America″ offended some people because of its treatment of homosexuality. The new grant will help fund a production scheduled for April by Berkeley Rep in California.

The agency denied a $42,000 grant proposal to the Maine College of Art in Portland for an exhibit by performance artist William Pope.L, entitled ``William Pope.L: eRacism.″ In an earlier performance, Pope.L walked around New York City with a 14-foot white cardboard penis and explained that it was a comment on ``the supremacy of white phalluses.″

The endowment offered no reason for the approval of one grant and the denial of the other. Officials said only that the applications were judged according to the usual standards. The agency also had declined earlier to explain why acting chairman Robert S. Martin had held up action on the two proposals.

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