Here's what Robert had to say last week in Eyes over the border. Plus you'll find below a summary of what I could find - plus a comment on a major policy gap relating to orphan artwork.
On my travels around the Internet for this post, I came across the Americans for the Arts Action Fund website and their candidate arts policy links - a summary of the policy position statements as collected from the primary candidates for President from each party. I've not heard of this before but it looks as if it's a advocacy group for the arts.
First off, I was very impressed that I could actually find a campaign factsheet (as a pdf file) about the new administration's position on the arts. I'm more used to seeing a few lines or a couple of paragraphs!
Obviously this statement relates to arts generally rather than just visual or fine art but the tenor of the statement is helpful in establising the new administration's perspective on the importance of the arts. The AAAF website includes three policy statememts altogether:
- Policy Statement #1 which appears to be an initial statement plus a record of positions taken;
- Policy Statement #2; which replicates the statement from the Obama website cited below
- Policy Statement #3 which contains details of the people Obama National Arts Policy Committee - obviously I don't know who any of these people are - but I'd welcome comments on the participants)
It is unprecedented, no presidential candidate in recent times has addressed cultural issues in such detail."The Obama Factsheet Arts statement indicates support for:
Robert L. Lynch, CEO of "Americans for the Arts," a Washington-based arts advocacy group.
- an overarching theme of reinvestment in arts education. (Check out current resources in this Congressional Resource Website which provides facts and figures). This will involve:
- Reinvesting in arts education - including an expansion of Public/Private Partnerships Between Schools and Arts Organizations
- expanding public grants for arts education - increase resources for the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination Grants
- publicly championing arts education,
Not only is arts education indispensable for success in a rapidly changing, high skill, information economy, but studies show that arts education raises test scores in other subject areas
- creating an artist corps - (like the Peace Corps) - the notion is that young artists are trained to work in low-income schools and their communities. The idea is based on research which has shown that this can have a positive impact on children's test scores. (Here's an example of an existing Art Corps which works overseas. Plus here's another example - the website of Artcorps San Diego which depends upon parent volunteers)
- increasing funding for the National Endowment for the Arts - Here's the portal for the NEA funding program
The NEA has proved divisive over the years: when commentators speak broadly of “the culture wars”, they refer to a battle of values between liberals and religious conservatives
- promoting cultural diplomacy - working to reverse the decline in available resources for cultural diplomacy and to promote cultural and arts exchanges
- attract foreign talent - the notion is that USA used to be a top destination for talented artists and art students but that they went elsewhere when visa restrictions tightened post 9/11.
- providing health care for artists - this seeks to address the sorts of problems experienced by people not in conventional employment (such as artists) and aims to provide a new public program that will allow individuals and small businesses to buyaffordable health care similar to that available to federal employees (I also came across this database site on my travels which I guess will not be known to everybody - Access to Health Insurance / Resources for Care - click the state to see what is available in your state)
- ensuring tax fairness for artists - proposes support which will allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the costs of the materials, when they make charitable contributions.
Plus the agenda for the arts does not feature in the main menu of policy statements.
An important omission
The policy statements does not in any way address the issue of orphan artworks which has seen lots of campaigning by visual arts people in recent months.
In the lead-up to the election, may of you will recall a flurry of activity when it became clear that there was a big push on to get the Orphan Works Bill passed and/or transferred to the 'suspension calendar,' which is the place largely non-controversial legislation gets put so that it will get passed quickly. This didn't succeed however there's always next time...............
The ILLUSTRATORS' PARTNERSHIP ORPHAN WORKS BLOG contains a statement of various perspectives as a postmortem on the most recent actions of the anti-copyright lobby - see Orphan Works: A Public Knowledge Postmortem
It seems to me that this omission needs to be addressed as a matter of policy - before the next attempt to undermine artists' rights gets underway. You can be sure that those proposing change will be gearing up to lobby.
Here are a sample of views I found around the internet:
- Walker Art Centre - The Arts and the President
- The Huffington Post - President Obama's Arts - which commenst in the link between arts and the economy
We have tangible historical evidence of how the arts have directly contributed to the fortification of a troubled America. F.D.R.'s New Deal - especially relevant now, as we face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression - included the Federal Writers Project, Federal Theater Project, Federal Art Project and Federal Music Project, each of which employed artists in ways that served and uplifted society and the economy as a whole.
Lucia Brawley - Huffington Post
- The Times - What will a new president do for the arts? commenting on the likely impact on the broader cultural environment
- Bloomberg - Obama Tapped Hal Prince, Michael Chabon to Craft Culture Plank - contains some interesting comments on the links between the arts and the overall economy.
Now obviously I'm an ocean away and sitting in London so some of the issues raised above mean little to me - but I hope that American readers find this a useful summary of what's been said to date. It was certainly interesting for me to find out what sort of perspective might be anticipated.
BTW, readers should not fear that this blog is becoming in any way political! I'm not proposing to comment any more on the political dimension to the government agenda for the visual arts - unless something really interesting and/or unusual happens!
If you'd like to comment on any of the issues raised by the above information please do so using the comments function. Please stay on topic and 'play nice' if you want the comment published.
(Note re Study for Mr Croot's Long Pod Chillis: I've got a slight obsession at the moment with the notion of vegetables arranged in circles or other patterns on a plate. You may see this worked up and/or more like this)