United States Secretary of the Arts

Just got this email:

People – Would you take a minute to sign in support of Quincy Jones’ brilliant idea for a US Secretary of the Arts? Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President-Elect Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts.  While many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for centuries, The United States has never created such a position. We in the arts need this and the country needs the arts–now more than ever. Please take a moment to sign this important petition and then pass it on to your friends and colleagues.


 This is long overdue. A Secretary of the Arts would further legitimize America’s place in Art History and in the international dialog through the many disciplines of art – a language itself.  People yearn for arts & culture and if they don’t, most are missing out on education, exposure, self-expression, & a creative outlet for internal strife versus unconstructive outlets that are too often used in our society. Production of art can be both a creative & an intellectual pursuit. Exposure to art has numerous benefits, one being for society as a whole to be elevated. Let’s put an arts leader in the Cabinet to start measuring up to other governments’ commitments to arts & culture. This will benefit individual artists, arts organizations, the fine art, film & performing arts industries at large, patrons of the arts, society at large, & the international community. For example, the Secretary could foster international dialog and commission collaborative projects between artists worldwide – there could be creative, spiritual, intellectual, social, economic, political, historical & community value.

Pass it on.

Right on! Secretary of the Arts. And if Quincy can’t do it, your man Culturebot is ready to serve his country! If Sanjay Gupta can get a job, then certainly yours truly – a pioneer of web-based grassroots arts advocacy – would be a good pick to go to Washington!

7 thoughts on “United States Secretary of the Arts”

  1. Lena says:

    Wow, being a foreigner, I had no idea that the US does not have this position, I kind of assumed they did!

  2. Artist Against Obama says:

    What has Obama really done for the arts community so far? True, his campaign utilized art as a vehicle for change, but you must remember that he utilized the skills of a known copyright infringer. That being Shepard Fairey.

    Obama is a bright man, more than capable of doing a Google search. He should have known that Shepard Fairey is the type of artist who threatens the rights of ALL artists. Thus, one can only assume that Obama is either lazy OR that he does not care about artist rights and copyright protection. Take your pick.

    Also remember that artist supporters of Obama have been asking for Obama to make his opinion of orphan works legislation known since early 2007. So far Obama has said nothing. One can only assume that he has said nothing because he supports it and does not want to loose face with the hundreds of arts organizations and thousands of artists who have been trying to keep the bills from being passed.

    Know your enemy. Obama is an enemy to the arts who has tactfully fooled the arts community into viewing him as a savior.

  3. Kirk says:

    Hmm. I’m not certain that it’s fair to expand the campaign-related use of a single offending individual’s art into evidence that Obama is an enemy of the arts. Perhaps he is not the savior so many hope for, and perhaps he is – my guess is that he will wind up somewhere in the middle. But an enemy? I’m doubtful.

    All we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst while remaining ever-watchful, ready to continue to fight for funding for education and grants.

    As for the petition, I too am behind it 100%, and am glad to see support for it grow so much as it has in the past month. My thoughts are here:


  4. Bruce says:

    This IS a good idea. But there is a problem no one seems to be considering.

    Specifically, I’d like to know where the funds to pay for this new National Secretary’s expenses (salary, staff, and overhead) would come from. [I’d endorse eliminating two or three of any fat-cat legislator’s staff to pay for an Arts Secretary.]

    Proposing to create new spending – TODAY OF ALL TIMES – requires that we are clear about where the money comes from.

  5. no name says:

    Constitutionally, it doesn’t matter whether or not we “like” this idea of a secretary of the arts, the fact is, it has no place in a free society.

    Artists (musicians, dancers, actors, poets…etc.) are the biggest champions of individual expression and personal freedom I know. Yet somehow, they think it’s okay to create a cabinet position to impose their values on the rest of the country. This is no different from a nasty special interest group lobbying government to get some preferential treatment. It’s unfair to everyone else who has to support big government with their wallets.

    …not mentioning the harm this this would do to the arts.

  6. Andy says:

    Wow – “no name” you are spectacularly misdirected on the role of arts and culture in society. The arts are much like political debate, they are a way for society to examine itself, to address the values, morals, stories, myths and issues that inform our day to day lives. The arts go back to the very origins of mankind – the Greek tragedies were created in part as a public forum for examining the great societal and philosophical issues of the time.

    Almost every country in the world – especially other Western countries – has a Minister of Culture and they invest an enormous amount of resources into supporting artists.

    The notion that artists uniformly have a single set of values or are, in any way, trying to foist those values on the “rest of the country” is so simple-minded that it strains credulity.

    Most civilized, free societies in the West support the arts and culture because they believe that – like science, philosophy, economics and other fields of study – the arts are a valuable tool for innovation and investigation. Arts and culture – and free expression – are vital to a democracy and as such should be supported by the society at large.

    Surely you have heard the idea that the unexamined life is not worth living? Or that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it? How do you think people examine their lives? How do you think we remember history? Frequently through the arts – literature, song, theater, visual arts, dance…

    Creative expression is a sign of a healthy society, cultivating arts appreciation in young people helps them develop the imaginative, investigative and critical thinking skills required to participate in a democracy. This is something the government should invest in.

    Not to mention that MOST of the world uses arts and culture as another tool of diplomacy and international dialogue. Arts exchanges and touring artists provide opportunities for countries to overcome differences in ideology and work to discover common ground.

    The fact that America has not had a Secretary of the Arts is shameful. If we are to be a leader among nations and regain our standing in the eyes of the world, then we must commit to humanitarian endeavors and the kind of introspection, self-reflection and awareness that arts and culture engenders.

  7. L.N. Smithee says:

    Lena wrote: “Wow, being a foreigner, I had no idea that the US does not have this position, I kind of assumed they did!”

    How did the United States survive without one? Sorry, trick question. The real question is, “How will having a Secretary of the Arts help the United States survive?”

    A. It won’t.

    Disagree with me? Fine. Make the case that in these times in which the President is calling for drastic action to rescue our economy (and, say some of his supporters in the media, capitalism itself), a secretarial position for “the arts” should be a priority.

    I dare you.

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