Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama's Plan for the Arts

Ok, last political post for a while, I promise. One of the things that's appealed to me throughout Obama's campaign has been his very thoughtful position on the arts. Unlike almost everyone in our federal government, Obama seems to recognize that artists and arts professionals contribute to our society and further our supposed core values of understanding and tolerance.

Aside from the predictable, though admirable, emphasis on arts education for children, Obama's platform recognizes artists as adults and professionals in need of investment. Here are some highlights of Obama's plans to support artists:

"Promote Cultural Diplomacy: American artists, performers and thinkers – representing our values and ideals – can inspire people both at home and all over the world. Through efforts like that of the United States Information Agency, America’s cultural leaders were deployed around the world during the Cold War as artistic ambassadors and helped win the war of ideas by demonstrating to the world the promise of America. Artists can be utilized again to help us win the war of ideas against Islamic extremism. Unfortunately, our resources for cultural diplomacy are at their lowest level in a decade. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work to reverse this trend and improve and expand public-private partnerships to expand cultural and arts exchanges throughout the world."

Include artists in the "war of ideas" rather than wage a culture war against us? It's so crazy it just might work.

"Ensure Tax Fairness for Artists: Barack Obama supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the costs of the materials, when they make charitable contributions."

The Artist-Museum Partnership Act is long-overdue legislation. If passed, it would bring artists back into the power structure of public collections, which are presently hamstrung by a complicated relationship with private collectors. The situation is complex, but suffice it to say that this law would give museum curators a reason to talk to artists again, and for living artists to play a role in shaping institutions. With a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, it just might happen.

Read the complete position statement here.


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