In the midst of the Culture Wars, in which Congressional Republicans and the religious right attempted to defund the National Endowment for the Arts, Bang on a Can expanded and professionalized. Cuts to government funding throughout the 1980s and 1990s shaped how Bang on a Can and their peers navigated their relationship to the marketplace. Other controversies also emerged, as when the New York State Council on the Arts attempted to implement policy around multicultural programming and encourage institutions to seek out audiences, to the chagrin of composers Charles Wuorinen and Milton Babbbitt as well as the Group for Contemporary Music. But Bang on a Can made the most of this moment, carving out new sources of income, diversifying their programming, reaching new audiences, and ultimately starting a new program, the People’s Commissioning Fund, in the wake of the devastating cuts to the NEA passed in the mid-1990s.
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