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In response to “Playing It Straight,” (Theater, 5/17):

I find it unconscionable that local actress Nanna Ingvarsson would appear in a commercial for the Republican National Committee (RNC) just for the money. Apparently Ingvarsson is not aware that the RNC, its supporters, and similar conservative organizations have been largely responsible for the major cutbacks in federal arts support over the last decade. The constant conservative attempts at arts censorship and limitation are damaging the very fabric of our cultural heritage.

Ingvarsson says, “I don’t exactly see myself as a middle-class Republican,” and the roles with which she has made her career in Washington-area theater attest to that. Vampire Lesbians of Sodom would send many middle-class Republicans scuttling for the comfort of a Rush Limbaugh rerun, not auditioning for the role of the chief bloodsucker.

Artists have the right to choose the projects in which they are involved, and yes, we all have to pay the rent. I’m sure a lucrative contract with an affluent organization such as the RNC would keep me in groceries for a long time. But artists also have a responsibility to the arts community that works very hard to make it possible to be an artist. We must be careful not to bite the hand that feeds us. Can you imagine Robert Mapplethorpe agreeing to photograph the Bob Dole campaign?

Jane Alexander and her co-workers at the National Endowment for the Arts are fighting tooth-and-nail to continue providing artists with the meager assistance our federal government allows. Were it not for their hard work, determination, and caring, many of the shows Ingvarsson has performed in might not have ever reached the stage, and indeed many local theater companies would have shut their doors long ago. As artists benefiting from the NEA’s programs, the last thing we can afford to do is garner support for organizations that oppose the NEA and promote censorship. That would be not only irresponsible, but disrespectful to our fellow artists.

Barney Circlevia the Internet