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Mitchell Aboulafia

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Artists Need Jobs Too (And Democracies Need Artists)

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There has been a running debate for decades about the extent to which the government should support the arts.  It’s nice to know that Obama recognizes the contributions that the arts make to our communities, nation, and world.  Here is an excerpt from a recent piece in the NY Times.

New York Times, March 24th, “Problems Persist, but Arts Advocates See Progress Under Obama” (excerpt):

Given the battle in Congress to include money for the arts in the stimulus package, cultural groups say Washington officials still fail to recognize artists as workers. “The third violinist in a chamber orchestra goes out and buys groceries just like everybody else,” said Bill Ivey, a former chairman of the Endowment.

Teresa Eyring, the executive director of the Theater Communications Group, which represents the country’s nonprofit theaters, said: “Local and regional elected officials and community leaders are seeing and talking about the connection between the arts and the overall health of their communities. The same sensibility hasn’t quite landed at the national level.”

“In President Obama we have a leader who is making the connection,” she added, “who seems to understand both the spiritual and economic necessity of the arts to our nation’s strength.”

Mr. Ivey, who led the transition team devoted to the arts and recently met with Mr. Dale, said he expected the White House position to involve coordinating the work of the Endowment, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“It’s great to have a direct West Wing connection,” Mr. Ivey said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had an administration that thought about the vibrancy of our cultural life as a central public policy,” he added, “as a marker of quality of life in a democracy.”

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