Thursday, November 1, 2007

One-legged Lithuanian Lesbians

Yesterday the BBC reported that the leader of the opposition Conservative Party in British Parliament David Cameron provoked a minor diplomatic scandal with comments regarding arts funding. At an Arts Council luncheon last week, he said, "I hope you won't be giving grants to too many one-legged Lithuanian lesbians."

The story has been picked up by Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas, and prompted a letter from the Lithuania's ambassador, Mr Vygaudas Usackas, who called the remarks "disappointing" and hoped for an explanation.

Cameron's office later said that he was misquoted and that he had referred to "one-legged Lithuanian dance troupes", which is somehow less offensive, presumably. His office added that he was making a serious point about Lottery grants, which support "too many obscure fringe performers."

The controversy has mostly been contained to issues of race, ignoring the possible offense to homosexuals, the handicapped and artists in general.

For the record, my two fave Lithuanian artists are George Maciunas (Fluxus ringleader) and Jonas Mekas ("grandfather" of experimental film, founder of Anthology Film Archives in NYC, which I think is the first American Artist-Run Centre, founder of Film Culture magazine, etc. etc.)

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