I trust it's all right to use Jeffrey Frank's own words when I call his NEA piece "utter and complete nonsense" {"Go Away, NEA," Outlook, Sept. 16}. Certainly now he has proved himself to be an enemy of the arts community, but I can only assume that is all right with him, as he questions whether the arts community even exists.

Mr. Frank objects to use of terms like "peer panel" when describing the group chosen to evaluate a theater or an artist for a grant. Simply put, (and Mr. Frank puts it simply), his objection is he finds terms like this bureaucratic and odd. Well, sorry, Mr. Frank, but wage your battle with the language police.

Mostly I'm rankled because the arts community has a lot of battles to fight right now, and we don't need Mr. Frank on the sidelines saying in a big article in the Sunday paper: "The rest of us ought to acknowledge with some thanks, that the arts in America really do not depend on the NEA."

Mr. Frank's comment may sound calm, but it's lunatic. The arts absolutely depend on the NEA. Every time a program or a stagebill states "Made possible in part by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts" that arts producer means it. In truth, most theaters couldn't operate, most events wouldn't take place without some kind of grant or matching funds at some level.

What better way is there? Mr. Frank asks. He wants something called a "National Trust for the Performing Arts." He sure likes the sound of this name but gives no plan or outline except that organizations, not individuals, ought to be funded. (Sorry visual arts, but this is a trust for "performing" arts.) I say no. Let's go to work fixing what we've got -- the NEA -- which from my outlook doesn't appear all that broken.

JEFF CHURCH Washington The writer is playwright-in-residence with Kennedy Center Theater for Young People.