Alec Baldwin: "When I saw 'West Side Story,' I wanted to dance like a gang"

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Apr 19, 2012 0 comments

Here is another portion of the Nancy Hanks Lecture given by Alec Baldwin on April 16 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

This time he addresses the evolution of his appreciation for dance:

Thanks again to our friends at Ovation for providing us with the clip.

You can also listen to Alec's interview with National Public Radio's Morning Edition on April 17 as a podcast on that program's website.

Here's a sample of his wisdom:

HOST STEVE INSKEEP: Why do you think arts funding is periodically a political lightning rod?

ALEC BALDWIN: It was easier before, and I think now you still have these kind of vapors in the air from old battles, which when there were individual grants and you could say those hot button words, like Karen Finley. And you could say Mapplethorpe and you could talk about individual grants that went to people...

INSKEEP: Artists whose work (unintelligible) were considered obscene in many cases.

BALDWIN: I've always had the same thing was when I've come down here to speak on this issue, which is, you know, art is something that comes from the artist in this unfettered way, or it's not art, quite frankly. And you can't go to the artist and say, OK, here's a grant we're going to give you, and you're going to go off and, you know, quote-unquote, "make his art." But when you do it, don't do this, and don't do this and don't do this.

Well, this is essentially what they said to the grant recipients. They said you have to return the money for the grant if, when you're done, it's something we don't approve of.

INSKEEP: Are you hitting at what the difficulty is, though, with arts funding, because the artist has to do something individual? They have to do something that feels new, that feels very true to them. It's inevitably going to offend someone, and someone is going to say: Why are my tax dollars going to that?

BALDWIN: Well, I mean we open up, not a can of worms, we open up an actual oil tanker of worms, in my mind, if we start talking about your opinion and my opinion of what the government should be spending money on. You know, if you think I'm being verbose now, I could give you another three or four hours of what - for the record, he's actually laughing as I'm saying this.

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