Week Fifty Two

Politics+Art

Posted in 2008 Archives, Art news by sarahbakerhansen on 23 October 2008

I don’t usually get political when it comes to writing, but I want all my blog readers to get the same dose of information that’s in my Reader column next week. So here it is. And don’t forget to vote. 

With a very important election right around the corner, I thought I’d devote some space to take a look at the presidential candidates’ views on the arts. The information below comes from data collected by ArtsVote, a program of Americans for the Arts Action Fund. So here’s the basic breakdown. Both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain met with the Americans for the Arts Action fund to discuss policy issues in April 2008. The data below is from that meeting and is collected from past votes, statements on the candidates’ Web sites and speeches they’ve made. Find the full text at www.artsactionfund.org/pdf/press/McCain_Obama_record_final.pdf. For now, here’s a summary:

  • Obama’s campaign has published a proposal on the arts and arts education; McCain’s campaign has not. Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, support a reinvestment in arts education, expansion of public and private partnerships between schools and art organizations, increased funding to the NEA, providing health care for practicing artists and the creation of an “artist corps,” a group of young artists trained to work in low income schools and their communities, among other proposals.
  • Obama’s campaign has made a statement on federal support of the arts, McCain’s has not. In an April speech in Pennsylvania, Obama spoke about the importance of the arts during his own childhood education.
  • Both candidates have made statements in the past for continuing federal support of arts education.
  • Obama’s national party platform includes a statement on the arts/and or arts education, McCain’s does not.
  • Obama has a pro-art Congressional record, McCain does not. Obama co-sponsored S. 548, the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, while McCain voted to cut funding or terminate the National Endowment for the Arts.

While I won’t encourage readers to vote one way or another, it’s pretty clear from the above summary that one candidate will do more in support of the arts than the other. Arts and the funding behind it often gets lost in the shuffle of – admittedly – many other important issues: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a woman’s right to choose, the economy, taxes – the list is long.

But art is one of my priorities, and providing this information to our readers is essential. So whatever your party, whatever your priorities: remember one thing. If you’ve attended an art opening in the past year and hope to do it in the future, we hope you think before you walk into the voting booth. The same goes if you’re an artist, an art educator, an art student or, like me, simply an art appreciator.

Also, if you’re not registered to vote and a Douglas County resident, you can do it by visiting www.votedouglascounty.com. If you live in Sarpy County, visit www.sarpy.com/election.

This year is too important to miss. Don’t forget to vote Nov. 4.

In the Reader, I didn’t urge readers to vote for one candidate or the other – I just urged them to vote. But because this is my blog, I’ll say that I am a supporter of Barack Obama and plan to cast my vote for him on Nov. 4.

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4 Responses

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  1. Kim said, on 23 October 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Yet another reason – a very important one – to vote Obama/Biden. Thanks so much, Sarah, for lining this out.

  2. lindsey said, on 24 October 2008 at 2:44 pm

    i second that–this is highly interesting, important information to know; these small things so often get lost among the bigger ones, but in some ways, i think they have just as big an impact on, as it were, joe six-pack or joe the plumber and his public-school-attending juicy juice kids, for a few.

  3. Eddith Buis said, on 28 October 2008 at 10:12 am

    Among the many reasons I’ll vote for Obama is this one…Artistic expression if fundamental to my joy in life! That’s why I’m now working on the 14th public art project in Metro Omaha.

  4. Sally Deskins said, on 3 November 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I understand this point of view – Definitely agree that the arts should be an essential part of education (why is it separate from general education?) and life. However, this is another example of Obama’s planned spending. In the current state, I think its best to work with what we’ve got instead of make a bigger government/administration/red tape – with the arts. Increased spending on anything right now is suspicious – will Obama pull through in our current state? Should he? Are the best creations made via the government? Sometimes maybe. But I understand the concern.


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