Sunday, December 21, 2008

Alliance for the Arts to Obama: Public Works Is Fine, But Include the Arts

I'd like to give major kudos to Randall Bourscheidt, president of the Alliance for the Arts, who is making the most of his opportunity to blog for the Huffington Post with a series of essays on the relationship between the arts and the economy. I covered his first post here, which I felt deeply was a good first stab but a little long on rhetoric and a little short on specific policy prescriptions. Now Bourscheidt has penned another piece for the HuffPo and things are starting to percolate in the right direction. Let me quote from this new essay:

Hopes are soaring that President-elect Obama's new public works program will help generate the jobs that have been catastrophically lost in recent months. His plans awaken memories of the New Deal, when President Roosevelt led an unprecedented investment in the nation's infrastructure....

....This time, Mr. Obama and the new Congress should include cultural institutions in the infrastructure program. They have a unique power to generate jobs, stabilize communities, build the tourist industry and stimulate the creative economy that our technology-driven world increasingly depends on....

....In the 2003-2005 period, New York cultural institutions spent $1.4 billion on capital construction, generating more than 10,000 jobs over three years.

It's time now for a campaign called The Arts Rebuild America.
So smart, and I totally agree. But here's the thing (and I say this knowing full well that Randy will be read this): the question is not whether "The Arts Rebuild America" is a good/inspiring slogan, but when and to what degree the Alliance, in tandem with other organizations, will put this into action. Frankly, I hope Randy calls me about this directly, as I think it is a great idea whose time is arriving rapidly. And it really does need to be an action item, a moment for getting up and making phone calls and doing something -- not just relying on President-Elect Obama to buy into the idea in order to make it happen.

Indeed, if the arts community can put "The Arts Rebuild America" into action, it would, in fact, honor the Obama-style of community organizing that is his creed.

Meanwhile, read Randy's essay in its entirety and let's all get moving. We haven't a day to waste.

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