Author Topic: Should Obama appoint a Secretary of the Arts?  (Read 1049 times)

Offline Meryl

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Should Obama appoint a Secretary of the Arts?
« on: January 14, 2009, 03:56:29 pm »
Quincy Jones was quoted in an interview from last fall putting out the idea of creating a Secretary of the Arts.

Here's your chance to add your voice:

http://www.petitiononline.com/esnyc/petition.html

I'm No. 99462  8)
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 05:14:31 pm by Meryl »
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Offline milomorris

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Re: Should Obama appoint a Secretary of the Arts? Sign the petition.
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2009, 12:53:15 am »
This has been all over the performing arts boards over the last week or so. And yet nobody has been able to answer the question:

Where's the beef???

This "petition" contains no objectives, strategy, tactics...no nothing. Its devoid of any substance at all. It does not say what this Secretary of The Arts is supposed to do. The is no value proposition.
  The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

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injest

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Re: Should Obama appoint a Secretary of the Arts? Sign the petition.
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2009, 02:48:41 am »
oh good grief...we are running trillion dollar deficits and some want to make a whole new cabinet position?

OY!

Offline Shasta542

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Re: Should Obama appoint a Secretary of the Arts? Sign the petition.
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2009, 06:27:08 am »
Why don't the state governments take care of that area of concern? It seems like the Arts would fall in their domain.
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Offline Meryl

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Re: Should Obama appoint a Secretary of the Arts? Sign the petition.
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 05:10:07 pm »
http://www.freetimes.com/stories/15/92/bending-the-presidents-ear

Volume 15, Issue 92
Published February 23rd, 2009

Bending The President's Ear

Quincy Jones And Others Could Get A Voice For Artists In The White House

By Michael Gill

It was less than two weeks after the election that Quincy Jones told John Schaefer on WNYC radio, "The next conversation I have with President[-elect] Obama is to beg for a secretary of the arts." The legendary composer and arranger wasn't the first to promote that idea, but his comment juiced the possibility like no one had before. The bassist Jaime Austria, who plays in the New York City Opera Orchestra, took up the charge, setting up an online petition, which as of noon Monday, February 2, had nearly a quarter of a million signatures.

Americans for the Arts president and CEO Robert Lynch is among those who had previously called for a senior-level arts advocate in the West Wing. He acknowledges that Washington has provided some arts support through the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and that the State Department sends cultural icons on ambassadorial missions. Indeed, the NEA may get a $50 million boost on its roughly $145 million budget, thanks to Obama's economic stimulus plan. But he says that even with increased funding, the NEA can't fully leverage the possibilities that American culture offers as a representation of America to the world. And it's not just about money.

"The existing federal infrastructure in support of the arts doesn't have a senior official in the West Wing to connect the dots," he says. "So when needs or opportunities come up, there's no one to talk about cultural diplomacy. Like when the New York Philharmonic went to North Korea [in February 2008] - that happened privately, so the U.S. government wasn't involved in one of the most significant cultural diplomacy events that we've had." The Bush administration even played down the concert, which reportedly involved the largest group of Americans to visit North Korea since the end of the Korean war.

But change is in the air. The current president has put action where his advocacy is, involving artists prominently in his campaign, which included an arts platform calling for, among other things, health care for artists. Lynch says Americans for the Arts, a national advocacy organization with 5,000 organizational and individual members, pressed for the same in a 2007 pro-arts policy brief, and again last month in recommendations on how the arts could be supported in Obama's economic-stimulus package. He also points to others who have pushed for a Secretary for the Arts. In 2008, the U.S. Conference of Mayors offered a 10-point plan for how the president could help American cities. One of the points was "the creation of a cabinet-level Secretary of Culture and Tourism charged with forming a national policy for arts, culture and tourism."

And then there's Bill Ivey. In his book Arts Inc., the former NEA chairman has also called for a senior White House staff arts liaison. Ivey had a role in Obama's transition team, so his voice may have extra weight.

Besides the New York Philharmonic's example of international diplomacy, Lynch mentions others that show how some cities - like Philadelphia, San Francisco and Miami - have benefited from cabinet-level arts liaisons in their mayors' offices, connecting dots between arts organizations and local economic opportunities. Cleveland has significant support for its arts organizations, with Cuyahoga Arts and Culture as a significant public-funding mechanism and Cleveland Public Art working with artists, developers and City Hall on projects in public areas. But the city doesn't have a dedicated voice for the arts in the mayor's office.

Alenka Banko, owner of Convivium 33 gallery, forwarded the petition supporting a U.S. Secretary of the Arts to her contact list, and thinks the city could benefit from something similar, to help coordinate departments on behalf of arts initiatives. "Even trying to put up banners to identify an arts district isn't easy," she says. "And that shouldn't be a big deal."

Of course, not all artists and performers are enthusiastic about governmental involvement. There are plenty who don't want City Hall or the White House to have any part in supporting the arts because they fear that funding and a politically connected voice would come with obligations and, potentially, censorship. Or that artistic work be co-opted to promote official messages, as happened under the Depression-era Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration.

Lynch doesn't think that's a real concern. "Art does not become subservient. The danger is for art to be seen as simply decoration and amusement," rather than an integral part of culture.

As far as money goes, he thinks no one is talking about enough money to compromise the arts and cultural sector because, he says, ticket sales and private donations account for about 90 percent of arts organizations' revenue in the U.S. Local governments provide a little more than nine percent, primarily by investing in community-development projects. Only one-third of one percent comes from the federal government.

In meetings with members of the Obama transition team, Lynch was told that the administration is taking the Secretary for the Arts idea very seriously. "They've gathered a lot of information. I would suspect within the next month or so we're going to see closure on a senior-level position."

(Bolding mine)
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Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Should Obama appoint a Secretary of the Arts? Sign the petition.
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 05:13:11 pm »

Thanks Meryl!  This has come up quite a bit around here at work too. :)

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