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Artists beg for more federal art funding

Wed., April 10, 2013

Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum joined cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to increase funding for the arts in a year of deep federal budget cuts.

The rocker and classical musician played a jam session briefly together for a gathering of legislators and arts advocates from across the country who planned to visit congressional offices. They performed with bagpiper Cristina Pato and dancing star Lil Buck.

Sorum, who has started a charity to support arts education in Los Angeles, said he was excited to visit Washington to press Congress for funding.

“This is the coolest thing I’ve done since Madison Square Garden, I’ve got to say. Slash is going to be really jealous,” he said, referring to the lead guitarist from Guns N’ Roses and now the group Velvet Revolver.

The group Americans for the Arts is pushing for funding to be restored to $155 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Last year each agency received about $146 million and lost about $7 million of that due to Congress’ automatic budget cuts.

White House chef’s job cooked by cuts

Even White House chefs could be feeling the pain of government budget cuts.

Assistant chef Sam Kass, who cooks dinner for President Barack Obama several nights a week, said Tuesday that he will be furloughed as part of across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect in March. Kass, the president’s senior nutrition policy adviser, made the comments in an interview with food reporters at the White House.

The White House has said 480 workers on the budget staff may have to take days without pay but hasn’t said whether notices have gone out to other Obama aides.

Kass also plants the White House garden and is the director of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity. He said that effort won’t be affected.

Beyonce, Jay-Z cleared to be in Cuba

U.S. Treasury officials say the trip by Beyonce and Jay-Z to Cuba was licensed as an educational exchange.

Assistant Treasury Secretary Alastair Fitzpayne wrote in a letter Tuesday to congressional representatives that the famous hip-hop couple traveled to Cuba with a group authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba.

Two U.S. representatives from Florida, both Republicans, had expressed concerns to the Treasury Department about the trip and wanted to know if it was licensed.

The birthday bunch

Actor Omar Sharif is 81. Actor Steven Seagal is 62. Singer Katrina Leskanich (Katrina and the Waves) is 53. Actress Chyler Leigh (“Grey’s Anatomy”) is 31. Actor Ryan Merriman (“The Pretender”) is 30. Singer-actress Mandy Moore is 29. Actor Haley Joel Osment (“The Sixth Sense”) is 25.


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