Major hat tip to Emari for this interesting bit of news:

ArtsVote, a program of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, has released the summary of 2008 Presidential Candidates Arts Positions. (I feel like there should be an apostrophe in there somewhere). An overview:

The McCain / Palin statement, which registers at exactly 4 sentences long, indicates that while McCain “believes that art education can play a vital role,” he is more than happy to leave funding up to local authorities (note: generally speaking, only about 7% of a non-profit’s operating budget comes from current government sponsorship). There is a conspicuous lack of specific policy language; instead of laying out basic fundamentals for supporting arts and arts education, McCain trots out a blanket “schools must provide quality education” line – which, sadly, puts no emphasis on arts education, and offers no recognition for the fact that tying arts education to a basic curriculum increases testing scores across the board and reduces the risk of drop-out.

The Obama / Biden statement, on the other hand, is about a page-and-a-half long, and includes specific language around building a policy that will (specific talking points quoted directly from the Obama / Biden campaign statement):

  • reinvest in arts education,
  • increase funding for the NEA,
  • promote cultural diplomacy,
  • attract foreign talent,
  • provide health care to artists,
  • and ensure tax fairness for artists.

It looks like Obama recognizes the need to incorporate arts education as an essential piece of effective learning tools, and that makes me happy.

The talking points listed above ring a few bells for me too – when Obama mentions “reinvesting in arts education,” one of the things he proposes is creating an “Artist Corps,” a group of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and communities. Here in New Jersey, we are very fortunate to have the Dodge Foundation Poetry In the Schools programs, which mobilizes hundreds of poets to make 1-day visits to NJ high schools to meet with students and teachers. And I know there are some local non-profit groups that link arts and communities. But to have a federally recognized community of artists who are charged with community-oriented education? That would be phenomenal.

Take 10 minutes to read the Obama / Biden statement. Then, take a few seconds to read the McCain / Palin statement. While you’re reading, think about art, and where you think it belongs in this world. Think about your favorite painting, your favorite song. Think about your favorite novel or webcomic, tattoo or body piercing, line of jewelry or clothing. Think about your favorite music video, movie, or play. Think about not having any of those things, because your kids or your neighbor’s kids aren’t learning about art in school.

Do you really want that?

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