Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thoughts on Presidential plans for the Arts, contributed by Shay

Presidential Plans for the Arts

President Barack Obama is the first-ever president to enter office with a platform and plan for the arts. His website claims that he "uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression." This is an exciting change for the arts. His eight-point plan includes a promise to set an example on how to appreciate the arts, more money for the arts and his "arts corps" and agenda to "expand public/private partnerships between schools and arts organizations" resonates his overall theme of service. All of this bodes well for the Off-Off-Broadway community.

However even more than a general awareness and appreciation of the arts, there are two points in his plan that I think will have the largest and most direct impact on our community.

Provide Health Care to Artists: Finding affordable healthcare for independent artists who don't always have a regular employer/regular employment has not always been easy. Anyone paying attention to the campaign knows that President Obama's plan is to create and make available a subsidy healthcare plan similar to the one that Federal employees now have. Will this make it possible for many OOB artists to spend more time working on their art and less time chained to a "day job?"

Ensure Tax Fairness for Artists: This is the one I find really interesting. This will allow artists to deduct (at fair market value) hours of time volunteered from their taxes...... This may mean a whole new game for OOB. How will Equity codes be affected by this? A very interesting proposal.

What are your thoughts?

Go here to see the outline of Barack Obama's plan for the arts.

Also if you haven't heard, Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President-Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts. This would be a Cabinet-level position that would oversee several federal agencies including the NEA. While many other countries have Ministers of Art or Culture but the United States has never created such a position.

Elizabeth Blair from NPR discusses the Secretary of the Arts here.

What do you think? Do you think a Secretary of the Arts would benefit us or do you agree with David Smith?

Go here to sign the petition.

Shay Gines

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