So, you think Dr. Ben Carson is an evil Christian conservative bast**d: A tale of Seattle Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

15 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: moi read the following Seattle Weekly article by Vernal Coleman, Langston Hughes’ Next Act:  The arts venue has fostered generations of black artists—but can it keep going without city tax dollars?

Pending approval from the council, the city will continue as owner of the theater property, while responsibility for its programming and funding is handed to a nonprofit.

“I think everyone knows that there is some risk involved, and that this isn’t necessarily going to be a slam-dunk,” says Councilman Nick Licata. “I think the key thing here is for the city government to play an active role in making a successful effort.”

How successful that effort is depends largely on how soon the proposed nonprofit can replace the city’s subsidy, which could be difficult. Midsize theater companies like Langston Hughes—those with annual budgets between $200,000 and $1.2 million—are typically the most difficult to fund, says Jim Kelly, executive director of King County arts agency 4Culture. “They’re the ones that are large enough to need contributed income, but don’t have that deep well of supporters that larger organizations like a Seattle Repertory Theater have.”

According to the committee’s draft plan, the proposed nonprofit will be operational by the beginning of the fiscal year 2016 and ready to fully assume the theater’s financial obligations by 2018. That gives the city roughly four years to establish the organization’s nonprofit status and recruit a leadership board to help generate through fundraising what the theater cannot earn.

And if previous earnings are any indication, the fundraising burden would be significant. Langston Hughes was closed for building upgrades for two years beginning in spring 2010. It did not reopen until May 2012, making a full accounting of its budget hard to come by.

But according to budget figures obtained from the city, Langston Hughes brought in just $70,880 in ticket and rental fees during the 2012 fiscal year. That’s up from the $56,963 it earned in 2009, the year before the renovations.

Compare those numbers to Langston Hughes’ operating costs: In fiscal year 2013, Langston Hughes was budgeted $745,698 by the city, the bulk of which was devoted to staff pay. The 2014 proposed budget bumps that total up to $809,180.

Drawing bigger-ticket shows could ensure a healthier bottom line—but that might distract from the organization’s traditional mission of nurturing talented writers. Office of Arts and Culture Director Randy Engstrom says he expects the Institute will be able to do both….http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/950153-129/langston-hughes-next-act

Emily Heffler detailed Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center’s (Langston Hughes) challenges in the Seattle Times article, Langston Hughes center’s city subsidy under review     http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020241221_langstonhughesxml.html

The problem is that there is not sufficient capital in many communities of color to sustain the organizations which nurture their cultural identity.

What many ask, doesn’t government exist to support cultural institutions? Well, tell that to the Detroit bankruptcy trustee. See, Detroit Institute of Art May Sell Paintings and Sculptures To Pay Off Bankruptcy   http://www.bustle.com/articles/10067-detroit-institute-of-art-may-sell-paintings-and-sculptures-to-pay-off-bankruptcy  Many communities of color have like Blanche Dubois:

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.                                                                                                   TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, A Streetcar Named Desire

There is very little capital in the African American community to sustain cultural institutions.

Michael A Fletcher wrote in the Washington Post article, Fifty years after March on Washington, economic gap between blacks, whites persists:

When it comes to household income and wealth, the gaps between blacks and whites have widened. On other measures, the gaps are roughly the same as they were four decades ago. The poverty rate for blacks, for instance, continues to be about three times that of whites.

“The relative position of blacks has not changed economically since the march,” said William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy, economics and African American studies at Duke University. “Certainly, poverty has declined for everybody, but it has declined in a way that the proportion of blacks to whites who are poor is about the same as it was 50 years ago….”http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-08-27/business/41486283_1_jesse-jackson-jr-blacks-whites

See, These ten charts show the black-white economic gap hasn’t budged in 50 years     http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/28/these-seven-charts-show-the-black-white-economic-gap-hasnt-budged-in-50-years/                                                                                                                                           It is that same lack of capital which makes the situation of Langston Hughes so precarious.

The question all communities of color should be asking is how can they begin to accumulate capital? One idea was put forth by Dr. Ben Carson, a Black Christian conservative. Here is what Dr. Carson proposed:

“When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health-savings account to which money can be contributed–pretax–from the time you’re born till the time you die. If you die, you can pass it on to your family members . . . and there’s nobody talking about death panels.”                                                                         http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Ben_Carson_Health_Care.htm

This is one proposal which allows communities of color to begin to develop capital resources within the community.

Dr. Carson’s ideas and those of any other Christian conservative will never be considered, particularly if they are people of color. Star Parker, a Black conservative, wrote in the article, Why the left attacks Ben Carson: ‘Liberals never take on what black conservatives actually say, because they can’t’ :

Ben Carson is the biggest threat to liberals since Bill Cosby got out of line at an NAACP banquet in Washington, D.C., in 2004.

Cosby had the temerity to deliver tough, critical talk about what too many blacks are doing with the freedom civil rights activists of the 1960s fought to achieve.

He contrasted the ’60s generation with the new generation of black youth sitting in jail. “… [T]hese are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake.”

Cosby attributed the chaos to breakdown in values, family and personal responsibility. It’s the last thing the NAACP crowd wanted to hear that night, and he paid a price. Cosby was vilified and marginalized until he backed off.

Liberals never take on what black conservatives actually say, because they can’t. So the attacks become personal.

Trillions of taxpayers’ dollars have been poured into black communities over the last half-century, producing virtually no change in the incidence of black poverty.

Yet, Ben Carson, through diligence and traditional values, achieved on his own what those trillions of dollars of government programs were supposed to deliver.

Liberal black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates put the cards on the table in an article about Cosby that appeared in 2008 in the The Atlantic magazine. The typical black conservative votes for Democrats, he notes, “not out of love for abortion rights … but because he feels … that the modern-day GOP draws on support of people who hate him.”

So stoking paranoia about racism has always been the strategy of liberals to fend off the political threat of conservative values that so many churchgoing blacks embrace.

Predictably, Coates has produced a New York Times column on Carson, reducing this great man to the usual caricature of a black empty suit manipulated by white conservatives.

Ben Carson is an accomplished and wealthy man. Americans, certainly black Americans, need him in public life more than he needs to be in public life. Let’s hope the left wing and the haters of traditional morality don’t succeed in making him conclude it’s not worth it.                 http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/why-the-left-attacks-ben-carson/

The only long term solution for communities of color is accumulating capital within communities of color.

This commentary has come full circle. Langston Hughes is a mid-sized arts facility and to be fair, mid-sized arts facilities have challenges. Add to those challenges the fact that it is located in a community of color and the focus of its offerings are aimed at communities of color. The question is whether any institution focused on a community of color has a chance of survival if the only source of revenue is a government subsidy?

Moi would urge those folk of color who reflex ably stop listening when any conservative speaks to heed the words of the Buddha:

 “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”                                                                                             The Buddha

Black economic disparity is firmly entrenched 50 years after the March on Washington on Washington which leads moi to what Albert Einstein said:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.                                     Albert Einstein

Unfortunately, for institutions like Langston Hughes, the light on the road to Damascus may come too late.

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