Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Walter and Joan Mondale threw a large party Thursday night beneath a white-and-yellow tent in the vice presidential garden. The evening air was sweet, and while the canapes were nibbled and cocktails sipped some serious business was conducted.
Government proceeds in unexpected ways. No protocols were signed, no speeches were delivered, but the powerful were present, and their casual conversation appeared to speed the flow of federal cash to American museums.
The party marked the 50th meeting of the National Council on the Arts, whose 26 appointed members function as trustees of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Heavy hitters from the world of culture - movie star Charlton Heston, dancer Edward Villella, writer Eudora Welty, painter Jamie Wyeth and jazz pianist Billy Taylor - mingled with their counterparts from the White House, the Cabinet, the Hill.
Where politicans meet, funding is discussed. Nancy Hanks, who chairs the Endowment, was speaking to Rep. Frank Thompson (D-N.J.). "A House appropriations subcommittee just voted us $98 million," she said. "For the first time in 12 years, we got every dime we asked for, and even a bit more."
Because Joan Mondale, the hostess, has been traveling the nation speaking for the arts, the mood Thursday night was upheat, but no wholly so.
Rep. John Brademas (D-Ind.) seemed worried. "The White House says the right things, but the arts need more than words. The administration has yet to evolve a firm arts policy. I know they are dragging their feet on the Museum Services bill."
A House committee, Brademas explained, had just voted $3 million for the new Institute for Museum Services. But $15 million had been authoritized. "We can't vote money for the institute if it doesn't have a chairman, and they won't send up a name," he said. "Its up to Secretary Joseph Califano of HEW (Health, Education and Welfare). We wait and wait, but he doesn't seem to move."
"The Senate might vote the Institute more than $3 million," said Brademas. "The House would go along if we knew who'd spend the money Califano has to send the Hill a name." Califano was standing by the corner of the tent. "Okay," he said. "A chairman for the Institute will be nomited within the next three weeks."
"That's not fast enough," said Brademas. "The money will be available on Oct. 1. I think we're wasting time."
"The Institute," said Sen. Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.), "is Claiborne Pell's baby. The Senate might jazz up the funding - unless, of course, the administration suggests the wrong guy."
Neither Barry Jagoda of the White House staff, nor Brademas, nor Javits, would discuss the name of the Institute's likely chairman, but rumors spread through parties. As the guests walked on the grass and tasted the small egg rolls, a name, at last, emerged - that of George Seyboldt, a businessman who now directs Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
Seyboldt, too, was present beneath the yellow-and-white tent. "What can I tell you? I just flew in on the Concorde. I hear the rumors, too, but no one has told me anything one way or the other. I had a hint, thought," said Seyboldt. "Secretary Califano introduced me as "the chairman" when we met this afternoon."