Friday, November 6, 2009

Will the committee serve the Arts?


On November 2, the White House announced the selection of 25 new members to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. These individuals join 12 federal members of the committee, whose agencies have cultural programs. First Lady, Michelle Obama will serve as the Honorary Chairman of the committee.

This committee will work with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to promote the Obama administration’s arts and humanities objectives. The committee focuses on “arts and humanities education, cultural diplomacy, economic revitalization through the arts and humanities and special events dedicated to recognizing excellence in these areas.”

Included in the new members of the committee are: actors Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, Alfre Woodard and Edward Norton; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Senator John Kerry; director George C. Wolfe; CAA partner and managing director Bryan Lourd; independent film producer Liz Manne; publicist Andy Spahn. and Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue magazine.

Some critics say that the committee resembles a Hollywood who’s who, focusing more on celebrities than on artists. With no representation for visual artists, curators or folk or traditional arts, these critics may have a point. “Great list for a great party! Now if only the artists were invited” said one commenter.

What is your opinion? Will raising the profile of the committee with movie stars and fashion icons help garner support for the arts or are these celebrities too far removed from the realities of cash strapped arts organizations to be effective?

For more info about the committee, go here.


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