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8/24/04

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National Endowment for the Arts Awards Grant to Subway


WASHINGTON (DPI) - The National Endowment for the Arts today awarded a $300,000 grant to the Subway restaurant chain to foster the sandwich chain's employment of "Subway sandwich artists." "With thousands of restaurants in the United States, Subway gives work to more artists than any other single employer in the country," Michelle Ogden, chairwoman of the NEA grant awards committee, said during a press conference. "At the NEA, we feel it our duty to recognize such a contribution to the arts."

Ogden said the choice became obvious at one particular meal. "We were at lunch with the stack of grant applications, and were generally feeling pretty disheartened," said Ogden. "It was just the usual bullshit -- sculptures out of old car parts, Shakespeare programs in urban schools, all that crap. Then I bit into my Veggie Delite and it was like biting into divine inspiration." Travis Chabon, a co-member of the committee, agreed. "When Michelle brought up the idea of just giving it all to Subway, I was skeptical at first. I mean, they hadn't even applied for a grant. But after watching Subway Sandwich Artist Jimmy Martin put together a Subway Seafood Sensation, I was convinced. It was like watching Pollock splatter paint, but mouthwatering."

Reaction in the arts community has been mixed. The view of Marjorie Rochel, a struggling playwright, was emblematic. "At first, I was totally pissed off," she said. "Usually, the NEA would break up that award into smaller awards, and a bunch of artists would all get some benefit. But when I actually experienced Subway's work personally, I have to admit I was swayed. The Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki is right up there with the Mona Lisa, as far as I'm concerned. And it has less then 6 grams of fat!"

Other artists have been less supportive of the Endowment's decision, but Ogden stood firmly behind the NEA's choice. "Some detractors have claimed that Subway Sandwich Artists aren't even real artists at all, that they're merely following a set menu. But would you claim that Andy Warhol wasn't an artist? Besides, in the past the NEA has been highly criticized for funding such controversial works as Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photography and Chris Ofili's picture of the Virgin Mary covered in elephant feces. Now we can all agree that the National Endowment for the Arts is supporting work that is truly in good taste."



(Reported by R.M. Weiner)






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