The Arts Getting Respect Again?
Maybe it's Laura Bush's influence, who knows? But unlike the way the arts were the GOP's scapegoat for nearly all that ailed us back in the Bush I and Clinton years, there seems to be growing bipartisan recognition of the importance of promoting the arts for our nation:
Four U.S. senators are spearheading the formation of a new bipartisan Senate caucus to promote the vital role the arts and humanities play in American life -- a coalition that will likely serve as a strong base of support for pro-arts legislation in Congress' upper house.Of course this comes on the heels of another effort being launched to explore the importance the arts play in shoring up our nation's economy, so it's not as altruistic as some folks might think (the hyperstingy New York Times is archiving its articles faster these days it seems and probably had something to do with the demise of the NYT Link Generator that no longer works, but I found a PDF of this article):
Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) will be co-chairs of the caucus, "which will work to highlight the programs and impact of the National Endowment for the Arts [NEA], National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services," the federal government's three major cultural funding institutions, according to the nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts.
"Future generations will learn about our history and ideals through our literature, paintings, dance, and drama," wrote the four senators in an April 14 letter inviting their Senate colleagues to join them in the new caucus. "Yet we often overlook the important role of the arts in our daily lives.... We can do much more to emphasize the broad array of activities that contribute in such a significant way to the cultural identity of our country. The Senate Cultural Caucus will provide opportunities to accomplish this goal."
What happens to the brain when you write or read a poem, beyond the moment of creation or enjoyment? What do the arts mean for jobs and economies? How can creativity be taught and fostered?It seems a bit daft that it's taken pols this long to realize that the new economic model (you know, the "ownership society," in which the "productive" class comes up with all the innovations and we outsource the actual labor to nations better able to produce work cheaply) demands more creativity of its workers and that the best way to nurture creativity is to support the teaching of the arts. But better late than never.
Those are some of the questions that led Louise T. Blouin MacBain, founder of one of the world's largest art magazine publishers, to set up the Louise T. Blouin Foundation. The international non-profit arts organization has a wideranging agenda to support cultural development around the world, through research and new programs.
One of the foundation's early projects will be to study the economic importance of the arts. It plans to hold forums at which artists, politicians, business leaders and educators propose cultural policies. The foundation also wants to endow a chair at a leading university to research the relevance of art to everyday life and the connections between the study of art and the study of perception and cognition.