Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The presidency and the arts

In honor of election day, here is an article from yesterday's The Times (London), titled: "What will the new president do for the arts?"  It only briefly talks about the cultural activities in the US during the Bush years, and comments the current presidential candidates have made about the arts.  The article mentions films, books, plays, popular music, visual art, musical theater, etc.  Though not too surprising, I was quite disappointed to notice that nowhere in the article mentions classical music and related performance arts.  Nor does it mention anything about arts education in public schools.  Furthermore, I was also struck by this comment found after the end of the article by a reader:

"Who CARES?...We are in survival mode right now. Anyone concerned with the Presidents role in the arts has got to be economically unaffected, or someone whose job is "arts dependent" 
If for one moment you think that the Arts are important enough to even be discussed right now, than get real."

I thought to share this on here, so to hopefully start a discussion on the relationship between the arts and politics in the US.


SarahLee said...

Thanks for the article Emily. I have to say that the response that you posted as well, about "who cares" with the arts, is incredibly unsettling. It's interesting to note that the more we read in this class, the more I can see how art, and how we view art reflects the current state of our world now. Unfortuately, classical music (I guess it's seen as "highbrow" here) wasn't mentioned and it's sad to think that it was overlooked. Unfortunately during economic crisis people do stop going to the theater, ballet, opera, symphony, etc. They just are not seen as high priority. I've even noticed that earlier in the school year enrollment for alot of the classes that I teach had dropped. The only thing that we could think of at the school was that the economic crisis was finally getting to the families. Unfortunately, music lessons are often the first to go. That's a different post though.
But one thing that people not as involved in the arts don't understand is that we will continue to make art and music. NO matter what the state of the world is in (notice I said world, not just the US because there is more out there!!!). THe beginnings of DADA is just one example. So let's get out there and begin a revolt against all of those that don't think the arts can survive or care, or that we need strife and horrible situations around us to have us create something. Can't we make music just for the sake of making music? Does this make sense?

AnaCristina said...

Why We Should Care:

This comment struck an unhappy chord with me as well, and it’s an alarmingly common viewpoint.

I struggled with the idea that we must sacrifice the arts to protect America, in that I disagreed but could not convincingly argue why. It reminds me of the famous Benjamin Franklin quote: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” although in this instance it is music and safety. Luckily for us, we have elected a smart president.

A release from Senator Obama’s domain site shows his policy on the arts clearly defined. Thanks to the Arts Action Fundfor posting this one. One of the most comforting messages for me personally was the section on promoting cultural diplomacy: “American artists, performers and thinkers – representing our values and ideals can inspire people both at home and all over the world…Artists can be utilized again to help us win the war of ideas against Islamic extremism.”

Traveling musicians can inspire world peace? I’ll buy that. I’m a bit skeptical that our efforts alone can combat extremism. But I do believe strongly that reviving our appreciation for the Arts will inspire the rest of the world to take us a lot more seriously. Surely even proctection extremists can agree that the world view of Americans right now is at an all time low. If our new president elect puts even half of his money where his mouth is, I think we will be in good shape.