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44th US President - Arts & Culture Policy?


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The title says it all. Does Barack Obama have an arts and culture policy, and if so, what is it?

Do we know anything about his cultural preferences? There was an article in the NY Times a couple of days ago discussing the then candidates' reading preferences, and Obama's choices were rather bland and non-commital, I thought. The fashion magazines are all calling Michelle Obama a second Jackie Kennedy, but is that substantive or just a comment on how good she looks and dresses?

If this isn't the right forum, mods, please move.

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I imagine some of the candidates' real tastes are not always said, because they carry such symbols of what the candidate as art-consumer would be. Even if Bush had had a taste for Camus early on, it's unlikely he would have been talking about reading till midway through his second term. It's been needed to sound populist, so we'll probably find more about Obama's taste as the time goes by. I am nearly sure some cultural functions, such as the concerts that the president and first lady have from time to time, will be smarter than some of the ones I saw in early 2001. I do know that Obama likes 'The Wire' a lot. Other than that, his internationalism will definitely allow for more of a cosmopolitan culture, since he has always been not only urbane in style but urban in terms of where he's lived for the vast majority of his life. There have been articles recently about his being a 'metro president' perhaps even more than an 'urban president', insofar as suburbs in the great metro areas are now to be considered more connected to their central cities, which is easily seen in the way commercial culture has developed and become more standardized for urban/suburban, really they're very similar by now--Broadway musicals are all made now for the suburban sensibility more than for the urban, and have been for a couple of decades, nevermind Wal-Marts. Strictly urban forms like dance and opera (I mean the most prestigious companies, not that there isn't good work being done elsewhere) will still be at the urban center, but urban centers have themselves become less powerful than they used to be by a long shot. But I don't think you'll see Obama 'getting down on all fours' in culture, because he didn't ever do so in the campaign. I always though Cindy McCain would have been the more likely Jackie Kennedy and was salivating at the idea of redecorating the White House. The Obamas are smart people and I expect very good results and a real opening in many cultural areas, because it's not just a matter of 'what art things they like', but that they are essentially cosmopolitan, urban types and this is always where the bulk of serious art takes place. As for the arts institution policies, that's not something I've heard about in the campaigns, because it's such a small matter in the political arena, esp. at a time when great art treasures, paintings, sculpture at auction are all suffering in the financial crunch. I think Krugman had something a couple of weeks ago on his blog 'and now a word from the art world', where all this is explained.

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The Bushes were always prominent at cultural events at the Kennedy Center and Laura Bush is a former librarian and great reader. I'm sure the Obamas will do at least as well. Considering the budget situation I would not expect hefty increases in arts funding, although there will probably be no cuts.

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Thanks for the links, they don't say too much except that they seem to be integrated in spirit with other government programs (they sound good, but not especially reassuring, in other words). I'd like to know who else doesn't think there'd be cuts, though (as well as why you think there won't, dirac). I would have thought there would be, not out of ideology (quite the opposite), but rather because things are disastrous right now, and expected to be for some time. We won't get the full effect of the Lehman failure on consumer confidence and other indices until January.

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Rahm Emanuel has a ballet background, if that's in any way relevant...

http://chaze77.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/ra...a-4-to-1-ratio/

"In one of his first big decisions as President-Elect, Barack Obama has asked Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff."

"As a child and throughout high school, his passion was dance- he was even awarded a ballet scholarship to the esteemed Joffrey College, though he turned it down, instead attending Sarah Lawrence College.

He liked their school of dance better than Joffrey’s… because of the male/female ratio. He enjoyed the fact that there were four women to every male."

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With the downfall of the economy and the bailout stimulus package recently passed, I believe arts funding will be a low priority in 2009 and possibly 2010. It will be interesting to see how the various American dance companies fare during this time period; and if conscientious efforts will be made by company managers/directors to tighten their companies' budgets. Hopefully individual giving will remain constant. It will certainly be a challenging time to be involved in fund development and retention.

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With the downfall of the economy and the bailout stimulus package recently passed, I believe arts funding will be a low priority in 2009 and possibly 2010. It will be interesting to see how the various American dance companies fare during this time period; and if conscientious efforts will be made by company managers/directors to tighten their companies' budgets. Hopefully individual giving will remain constant. It will certainly be a challenging time to be involved in fund development and retention.

I agree, artspatron07.

papeetepatrick, I don't think arts funding will be cut because there is so little to cut, but you never know.

Not that it would do huge harm to provide more funding - we're talking 'chump change' as the President-elect would say (I saw a news item some time ago that mentioned the government was spending more on military marching bands) but that doesn't mean there will be any increases.

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It would be great if Suzanne Farrell Ballet were able to perform at one of the inaugural events.
Or Washington Ballet.

These would either one be good, Martha Graham Dance Company even better IMO. I don't remember if there is an emphasis on local D.C. institutions or not--not a bad idea though. Any would set a good beginning tone, though. The Dixie Chicks would be all right for one of the pop things by now, I imagine.

Here's a bit more on the auctions, which tells something about the other Arts, I'm sure, although I hope dirac is right:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/11/06/fall.art....tml?eref=rss_us

How much these phenomena affect government arts funding I have no idea.

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This will be Chicago's night to shine! Joffrey Ballet of Chicago should be the troupe to perform at the Inauguration events and/or Hubbard Street Dance. Being of a balletic inclination, I'm rooting for the Joffrey. :blush:

p.s. - Wouldn't Messers. Joffrey and Arpino be beaming proudly from On High? Sorry for my sentimentality.

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The title says it all. Does Barack Obama have an arts and culture policy, and if so, what is it?

Do we know anything about his cultural preferences?

Maybe a tour by the National Ballet of Cuba? :blush:

I'll vote for that...Have you ever have the opportunity to see the company... live...?

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Thanks, papeetepatrick, for the link to the CNN article on auctions. It does seem that this recession is hurting the superrich, normally impervious to most economic up-and-downs, as well as everyone else. That might be bad news on the private funding front.

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And now I know there's a Joffrey College program! Wonderful news about the chief of staff... dance major at Sarah Lawrence... there must be someone on this board who knows him!

There are usually so many inaugural events, parties, etc... perhaps more than one Chicago troupe could perform... how about Joel Hall's group too?

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One possibility is ABT, since they danced at the White House in 1962 for the 35th president, and President-elect Obama is the most inspirational leader since JFK.

Another would be ABC, since the American Ballet Company danced at the White House for the current president, as noted (on Ballet talk) from the official White House announcement, and President-elect Obama has suggested he wants to have a politically inclusive administration.

I do like the Chicago-association with the Joffrey, too.

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Another would be ABC, since the American Ballet Company danced at the White House for the current president, as noted (on Ballet talk) from the official White House announcement, and President-elect Obama has suggested he wants to have a politically inclusive administration.
:blush: I love it, and fondly remember the exquisite photographs you posted of the First Fan enjoying his first Nutcracker...I think this political inclusivity should be emphasized by inviting the Outgoing First Fan to...at least one more performance of Nutcracker (it's, of course, always ridiculous the way they keep doing it after Xmas, so surely they can stretch it to the Inaugural things, or just be inclusive next Xmas...). Since such inclusivity may be read on the other side of the aisle as too bi-partisan, the Obamas may be lucky enough to get ABT instead of ABC.
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Maybe a tour by the National Ballet of Cuba? :blush:

I'll vote for that...Have you ever have the opportunity to see the company... live...?

No - I was away when they came to London recently. I'm going to Cuba in December .. must find out what my options are - but both the web sites (www.balletcuba.cu and www.balletcuba.cult.cu) have gone.

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It would be great if Suzanne Farrell Ballet were able to perform at one of the inaugural events.

As an outsider. I think two gala performances should be given in Washington with ballet (perhaps some dance) performers representing each state company(if they exist) taking part in the celebration.

However, the performances would need to be televised to ensure a sense of inclusiive celebration for the whole country.

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It would be great if Suzanne Farrell Ballet were able to perform at one of the inaugural events.

As an outsider. I think two gala performances should be given in Washington with ballet (perhaps some dance) performers representing each state company(if they exist) taking part in the celebration.

However, the performances would need to be televised to ensure a sense of inclusiive celebration for the whole country.

BTW I've heard that there are no hotel rooms to be had in DC during the even!

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Interestingly, the ONE internationally-reknowned ballet company that will be in town during the pre-inauguration days will be the Mariinsky (at the KennCen for Don Q, ending two days before the actual inauguration...so watch-out for folks trying to get a hotel room in DC for the DON Q weekend performances). :blush:

Didn't Obama talk about improving relations with Russia (unlike McCain/palin who wanted to practically end relations)?

I am TRULY looking forward to the return to US touring for the National Ballet of Cuba. I was there for those precious-few performances ca-1978. It would be great if Mme Alonso could be welcomed back to her US home during her lifetime.

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Wonderful news about the chief of staff... dance major at Sarah Lawrence... there must be someone on this board who knows him!
Not quite, but I know a former housemate of his from his Sarah Lawrence days. One degree of separation. :)
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