Essay Title: 

History of Government Funding of the Theatre

March 24, 2016 | Author: | Posted in american history, history

GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF AMERICAN THEATER

Unlike other prosperous nations , the United States has a relatively short history of providing government funding for the theater Throughout its history , the United States has often shown a degree of antipathy for the arts in general , particularly for the stage , though during the late twentieth century , the federal government has provided millions of dollars ‘ worth of support . However , politics have periodically affected this support

While the United States has only recently favored giving public funds to theater , scholars Milton Cummings and Richard Katz assert that [banner_entry_middle]

state support of the arts is now new at all . Indeed , it is the continuation of a tradition that fostered the flowering of Western culture (Cummings and Katz 3 . Indeed , European and Asian nations have long histories of providing government patronage for the performing arts . In China , for example , Emperor Ming Huan formed and sponsored a dramatic school known as the Pear Garden ‘ as early as the eighth century AD , which eventually evolved into the Beijing Opera (Grant 27 . In Europe , the Catholic Church (which served as a sort of de facto government for centuries ) occasionally paid actors who appeared in ecclesiastical plays , and after the Renaissance , royal courts and independent nobility frequently employed their own small troupes , which performed secular dramas , tragedies , and comedies (Grant 46-48

In the modern era , the French and British royal courts were especially supportive of the theater . In post-1600 France , playwrights often competed for royal favor and support , among them playwrights Racine and Moliere (Hartnoll 104 . In England , King Henry VII employed a permanent company of five actors , and powerful lords like the Earl of Leicester (long one of Elizabeth I ‘s favorite courtiers ) occasionally provided patronage as well (Grant 54 . Though the strong Calvinist Cromwell protectorate banned theater in England for over a decade , Charles II revived royal sponsorship of the stage , which has received more consistent government support since then (Hartnoll 113

Unlike their British forebears , Americans have long had an ambivalent relationship with theater , and an especially negative one during the colonial era . During the seventeenth century , popular English appetites for theater competed with the Puritan vision of an England devoid of temptation and frivolity . According to historian Hugh Rankin , the seventeenth century was an era when licentiousness and obscenity were considered to be desirable and necessary ingredients for successful drama (Rankin 2 . Indeed , the Puritans were openly hostile to theater , deeming it the bastard of Babylon ‘ and chapel of Satan (Rankin 2 . They even passed laws against it , barring it from New England until 1792 (Rankin 190 . In Philadelphia , where the Quakers and Presbyterians embraced a generally more tolerant world view , thought theater too racy for their tastes and barred it from the city , though the colonial governor overrode their efforts to bar it completely from Pennsylvania (Rankin 10

The only places where theater genuinely throve in the Thirteen Colonies were Williamsburg , Virginia , and Charleston , South Carolina – both colonial capitals where the elite planter classes embraced English cultural tastes… [banner_entry_footer]

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