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Our Mean-Spirited Critics

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To the editors:

N.A.M.E. raised a considerable amount of money from their benefit [Performance, February 12]. I am proud to have contributed my work to N.A.M.E. from the beginning of my career in 1977 until now. I have no idea why anyone would review a fund-raiser--cover it maybe, but it seems a bit strange to actually critique it, almost mean spirited. For the artists involved it constitutes a slap in the face for generosity toward a beloved institution. The only way many artists are able to raise money for specific causes is through art auctions or performances--hence their work becomes a kind of legal tender. This is the second benefit that has been reviewed by the Reader in recent months; the first was Maura Troester's review of WAC-A-Go-Go [December 11]. In this case, this recent evening of performances framed a benefit for N.A.M.E. Gallery, part of their Valentine's Day Auction and held in honor of N.A.M.E.'s 20-year anniversary. This was clearly stated on the announcement.

For the record, in terms of my piece, my intention and directives had been to show ten minutes of slides, but as I was out of town for the event a decision was made unbeknownst to me to add a video, which was not created for this event. Also, the slides were an excerpt, which was also stated in the program and which you did not state in your review. Regardless of the difficulties, I was and am still proud to have contributed what I could to N.A.M.E.'s future.

Carmela Rago

N. Francisco

Achy Obejas replies:

No one argues N.A.M.E.'s or your contributions to the local performance scene. As for covering benefits, I honestly don't see the difference between them and any other productions. I follow the same rules: I call ahead, tell the producers I'm coming, and ask for press materials. If someone doesn't want to be reviewed, I respect that. The producers of Purple Heart, with whom I've worked for years, know this better than most. I'm sorry you felt badly about the review.

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