Republican U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, whose district stretches from San Antonio north into Austin, recently pressed an official about the government bankrolling a musical.
Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space & Technology Committee, listed six National Science Foundation grants as questionable - including, Smith said at the panel’s March 26, 2014, hearing, a “climate change musical that was prepared for Broadway but I’m not sure ever was actually produced, $700,000.”
Smith then asked John Holdren, the White House science czar, if the foundation should justify such grants to the public, whose tax dollars fund them, the Texan reminded.
Holdren replied that the foundation, which is entrusted with promoting scientific progress, already justifies its grants in online posts.
“We’re going to have to agree to disagree,” Smith said.
We’ve noted the scientific consensus globally that the Earth is warming. We focused for this article on whether the foundation ponied up for a play about that.
To our inquiry, a foundation spokeswoman, Dana Topousis, said by e-mail the grant was awarded in 2010, adding: “The Civilians, Inc., a Brooklyn, N.Y., theatre company, developed an innovative, out-of-the-box approach to exposing U.S. citizens to science. The project represents the unique cultural leverage of theater in its attempt to inspire the public’s imagination and curiosity about basic science and its relation to their everyday lives.”
Topousis continued: “This venture, like other more traditional NSF-funded informal science education projects (e.g., interactive science exhibits, IMAX films, science-based television programming), aims to educate through a focus on understanding the scientific method, its applications, and its unique ability to extract knowledge about our complex natural world. It presents the pursuit of fundamental knowledge through basic research in a neutral manner that does not advocate any position regarding climate change or conservation research,” she said.