Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Change We Need

In the days leading up to Barak Obama’s inauguration, there has been an email petition circulating to create a cabinet secretary representing the arts. Canada, Britain, and many other countries have a Minister of Culture or Minister of the Arts. Why doesn’t the United States have a comparable position?

Obama’s arts platform, as laid out in the campaign, promised to increase the National Endowment for the Arts’ funding again. This is a wonderful gesture after years of budget cuts for the most prominent arts organization in our federal government. But it you read the document, you will find that the majority of the funding is earmarked for teaching and education. And while arts education desperately needs the funding, what are we going to do to develop and sustain the arts themselves?

Obama is taking some ideas from Franklin D. Roosevelt in also proposing a Musician’s Corp. Like some of the New Deal programs, this would be an opportunity to give artists jobs in public works.

But is this enough? In a time when our Nation’s economy is about as bad as it can be, are people really going to stop worrying about their jobs to make sure that the theatre is funded? In New York, maybe, but what about the rest of the country? Creating a Secretary of the Arts would be a great first step, but what are some other changes you would like to see the new administration adopt to help develop our national treasure and our national identity that is kept alive by our arts and performance?

Read American Theatre's discussion of the upcomming administration in their November issue.

Happy Birthday: Patricia Neal (b. 1926)

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