As the news media have widely reported, Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama all attended last night’s sold-out performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
While the time-out from stimulus package dealings got a little flack, the President’s dancer in chief (and chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel seemed to have things under control. But here’s why I’m giddy with excitement– the President and his family have announced their commitment to being an active part of the DC community and in showcasing the best our culture has to offer. Now they are making good on that promise. Am I getting ahead of myself dreaming that the ‘Obama effect’ will extend to increased patronization of the arts?
The ‘Obama effect’ I refer to is that the President’s cache` is so great that many people want to be a part of what he is a part of. I can just imagine more shows selling out around town in the hopes the President (or other luminaries such as mother in law Marian Robinson or Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who attended Ailey a few evening earlier) will be there too. And in the process maybe some folks will get an appreciation for experiencing the arts.
There’s no word yet on how this sudden elevation of the arts in Washington might translate to policy. The idea of a Secretary of Arts has been thrown around (see related discussion, including my thoughts on the matter at Dancing Perfectly Free). Increased funding for arts in education, museums, and artists is always something being pushed for. Personally, I’d love to see a WPA-type creation of jobs for artists in the economic stimulus.
Policies aside, let’s celebrate the fine example the White House is setting as a patron of the arts. The Obamas also demonstrate that exposing your kids to the arts at a young age is appropriate and beneficial.