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Art in the Cabinet

posted by Cheshire Isaacs on Tue, Jan 20, 2009

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In honor of the inauguration... Each weekday I receive an email that highlights a handful of arts-related stories captured from the internet. It's called, 'You've Cott Mail.' The stories are culled and distributed by Thomas Cott. Tom is a much-admired, New York-based arts administrator, currently director of marketing for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. When he was marketing director for Lincoln Center, I wanted his job (I'm a New York City native). Not so much anymore. I just want the email. Here's a recent story about a petition to President-elect Obama to establish a Cabinet-level arts czar.

"A call for President-elect Obama to give the arts and humanities a Cabinet-level post -- perhaps even create a secretary of culture -- is gaining momentum. By yesterday, 76,000 people had signed an online petition, started by two New York musicians who were inspired by producer Quincy Jones. In a radio interview in November, Jones said the country needed a minister of culture, like France, Germany, or Finland has. And he said he would "beg" Obama to establish the post. Listening in New York, Jaime Austria, a bass player with the New York City Opera, and Peter Weitzner, also a bassist, took his suggestion to heart and started the online campaign. Depending on how you define culture, the portfolio could cover many areas, supporters say. "We are not quite sure, especially in this environment, what the secretary of the arts could provide, but foremost is advocacy for arts education and awareness of the financial rewards the arts bring to a community," said Weitzner, the host of a chamber music series at the Brooklyn Public Library. Jones, who has been promoting the idea for at least 10 years by his count, said yesterday that he has specific responsbilities in mind for teh office. He wants an education system that teaches the history and personalities of the arts, particularly music. "I have traveled all over the world all the time for 54 years. The people abroad know more about our culture than we do," he said."
    From the Washington Post, January 14

Washington Post

Wouldn't it be great to replace the campaign against terror with the campaign for art? Where do I sign the petition? Right here: Petition for Arts Czar.


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