US candidates’ position on funding for the arts

M. Scott Brauer - Inside an artist's painting studio in Shanghai, China.

Thanks to 2point8 I found ArtsVote2008, which aims to collect information about Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s various statements about the arts, funding for the arts, and arts education.  While McCain has yet to issue an official campaign statement about the arts, Obama’s is pretty wide-ranging (PDF).  The candidate’s main positions have been summarized in another document (PDF) which I have included below: - Arts Vote 2008 - Summary of US Presdential candidates' positions on the arts.

In a pitifully small statement released by the McCain campaign, the candidate states his position, worth including here in full:

John McCain believes that arts education can play a vital role fostering creativity and expression. He is a strong believer in empowering local school districts to establish priorities based on the needs of local schools and school districts. Schools receiving federal funds for education must be held accountable for providing a quality education in basic subjects critical to ensuring students are prepared to compete and succeed in the global economy. Where these local priorities allow, he believes investing in arts education can play a role in nurturing the creativity of expression so vital to the health of our cultural life and providing a means of creative expression for young people.”

That sounds fine, but it’s 4 relatively meaningless sentences. Lip service. John McCain opposes the existence of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Salt Lake Tribune has great analysis of the two candidate’s positions.

Obama’s arts policy proposal, on the other hand, was called “the most comprehensive platform on the arts” by Arts Action Fund CEO and president Robert Lynch. It provides for the creation of an Artists Corps (which reminds me of the Farm Security Administration, which begat modern photojournalism), national initiatives for funding and recognizing arts achievement, and widespread arts education based on research in Chicago’s failing schools. More than that, freelancers reading this will be interested to note Obama’s recognition of the impossibility of obtaining health insurance as an independent artist outside of traditional employment, noting that his health care policy would make it easier for artists to afford federal health insurance. And our international audience will be happy to learn that Obama’s platform includes explicit provision for cultural artistic exchange, both through funding American artists’ travel and exhibition internationally and through the streamlining of visa processes in order to make the USA an attractive place for international artists to come and create and exhibit their work.

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