in terms of keeping you focused in the right direction. At the same time he was so clever about never making you feel in any way that he was intruding or imposing what he felt you should do. Yet somehow or other he always seemed to be terribly pleased with whatever you ended up doing, as if to say, "Well, that was exactly what we thought you could have done." There are some people who simply write a check and then say, "Call me at the end of the year and tell me what you did." But not Howard. He was enormously involved and supportive, but at the same time it seemed to be a very hands-off thing.6
That delicate balance of quiet influence is a major Ingredient in Klein's style. He exudes an enthusiasm for the arts and artists, at the same time displaying a capacity to play ball with the power brokers and assume the role of the guiding father figure. For Klein, each grant, in effect, posed a question, be it whether a public television station or a university system could foster artists' works for television or the ideal way to support a large number of artists with essentially limited funds. With hindsight, he is not reluctant to point out grants that were unsuccessful, but he stresses the initial questions posed and often answered by those grants.
There is a considerable mythology surrounding the role of Klein and the Rockefeller Foundation's funding of media, a mythology that in many ways attests to the image attached to the Rockefeller name within U.S. culture. While the funding of media by the foundation was substantial, particularly during the 1970s, when-it was almost the sole source of private monies in the field of media, it should be noted that it was on the average half that of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and significantly less than that of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). However, in influence it was exceptionally important, in part because of the timeliness of many of the grants and because of Klein's own style of grant making. Klein was an active political figure in the media field, offering advice, providing support, and often negotiating on behalf of the organizations he funded. He was well aware of the power of the Rockefeller Foundation and used it to benefit artists he felt were at the forefront of creativity.
It is impossible to discuss the funding of media by Klein and the Rockefeller Foundation during the 1970s without elaborating on the role of Nam June Paik, who was Klein's official and unofficial advisor for many years. Coming to the foundation as he did from a background as a musician and music critic, Klein was not necessarily inclined to pay much attention to media. Also, while the foundation had made a few grants in the direction of media in the mid-1960s, for instance to WNET (New York), WGBH (Boston), and KQED (San Francisco) to produce some experimental programming, there was no previous history of serious funding of media. Klein's relationship with Paik was a key factor in his interest in the developing field of video art. Paik's first encounter with Klein was far from auspicious.
-->> next page