Is there a news story about residents of Nebraska being hot over how much public money goes the International Quilt Study Center's Museum and I came up with zilch. If there is such a news story that your editorial board was basing its editorial upon, I'd appreciate a link or reference here. I don't quite understand why a paper in Tennessee would be concerned about what's happening in Nebraska.
In the absence of such a report, I'd like to point out that you infer (indirectly) that some might be "needled" by the museum. Who are these people and if it's only your ed board and copy desk, then you're making news, not reporting, reflecting or debating it.
I did find numerous reports of federal grants paid to the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga--millions of dollars to programs there alone. The community college in your town is getting $3 million for job retraining programs. Oh, and then there are the grants funding airport improvements and, hey, your local arts council is seeking grant money for their efforts.
Of course, you can argue the relevancy of these grants over others, but the fact remains that what the IQSC is receiving is so minor in comparison to where the bulk of grant money goes that it should not be worth the ink used to cite it specifically. There are an estimated 21 million quilters in America. With the $1 million you cite as taken in by the museum over the last 15 years, the amount taken from us quilters' tax dollars works out to less than one penny per American quilter annually. I think we quilters are happy to offer that up to the cause.
One of my favorite lines you wrote was this: "...the National Endowment for the Humanities raided federal coffers..." The NEH's purpose is stated as this on its website: "Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The Endowment accomplishes this mission by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers." From what I know of the IQSC, the museum perfectly aligns with the NEH mission. If you have a concern, I would propose that it's with the existence of the NEH as opposed to how it's spending its money. Yesterday's quilts are a reflection of our history as women and Americans. Today's quilts reflect the same interests and concerns of our predecessors, and so much more.
Again I would urge you to do a little more research into what quilting is today. Look at the art created by these incredibly talented and dedicated artists. Look at the plethora of books, magazines, blogs, and other media dedicated solely to quilting. Look at the expansion in the last 30 years of textile manufacturing. See the many women AND men who now earn part or all of their income from this "irrelevant" pastime. I promise you will be surprised by the depth and breadth of today's quilters.
I am a newspaper journalist myself, a longtime quilter and the publisher of a national quilting magazine. With all of these roles at my disposal, I can emphatically say that this is one of the most one-sided, denigrating and ignorant editorials I've read since coming out of J-school. Generally, an editorial will at least take half a stab at voicing the other opinions and opposing concerns before asserting its position. Not here though. Looks like no effort was given to contact the Quilt Study Center to find out about the revenues the museum, and the university, bring in from its quilt programs. And what about the surrounding businesses that glean money from quilters traveling to the center and students living in the area as they work on their studies?
The information about the value of the quilting industry (yes, it's an industry, and a huge one) in American alone ($3.6 billion in 2010-Quilting in America Survey) is so easily found on the Internet that the only conclusion I can draw is that the writer was too lazy to bother looking, and having too much fun trying to sound witty and authoritative to even realize how insulting their words were.
I agree with "Marsbar" above about checking out the "Why Quilts Matter" documentary. It's an excellent exploration into why this editorial is so completely off-base. Another is "Stitched: The Film," a documentary by a newspaper reporter and her photojournalist husband who both knew nothing about quilting, but learned very quickly about the passion--and monetary power--of quilters while making this film.
But aside from handing you your homework, since you didn't bother to come to class prepared, I'd also urge you to step back for a moment and really think about whose efforts you're patronizing. While there are men in quilting, about 95 percent of active quilters are women, and they come in ALL ages. I read something like this editorial and I think to myself that if every statement in this piece was exactly the same, but we were instead talking about the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Henry Ford Museum, would there be this much questioning of the museum's fiscal ethics and use of tax money by the writer? I'd welcome an answer to that one, but in the meantime, I urge you to take the time to actually go to a local quilt shop and watch the patrons. Or better yet, call the museum, arrange for a tour and learn about what they do instead of just insulting their efforts. If at the end of that fact-finding mission you remain of the same opinion, I would respect that. I would even consider your work journalistically relevant. But you're not there yet.