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Candidates' Arts Policies

February 19, 2008

Blogger Lindsay Dreyer of Dancer Universe.com, posted a very good summary of the arts policies of the three Presidential race front-runners on February 6.

In the light of President Bush's latest about-face with regards to National Endowment for the Arts funding (Bush's Fiscal Year 2009 budget featured a $16.3 million cut in support for the NEA, barely two months after signing off on a $20 million increase in the NEA's budget -- the largest in the endowment's history) now seems like a good moment to take a look at what the future of federal arts spending might look like in the hands of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain. Here's Dreyer's summary:

Barack Obama:
-Supports increasing funding for the NEA from $125 million to $175 million annually
-Wants to expand both public and private partnerships between schools and arts organizations
-Supports the creation of an "Artists Corp" to work in low-income communities
-Promotes cultural diplomacy (send performance artists abroad)
-Welcomes international artists into the US
-Wants to provide health care to artists and their family members
-Supports ensuring tax fairness for artists
-As Senator, co-sponsored and passed legislation to honor the legacy of Katherine Dunham
-Supports the Artists-Museum Partnership Act, which allows artists to deduct the fair market value of their work when making charitable contributions

Hillary Clinton:
-Supports the NEA's mission and increasing Federal funding for the NEA
-Wants to reform No Child Left Behind to strengthen funding for arts education in public schools
-Believes in international cultural exchange as a form of diplomacy
-Supporter of Public Broadcasting
-Created the Finger Lakes Trading Cooperative, an initiative that links local businesses with artisans in upstate NY
-Helped to develop affordable living/work space for artists in Buffalo
-Entered a statement to the Senate Congressional Record in support of creative arts therapies
-As First Lady, was the honorary chair of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities

John McCain:
-In 1999, voted NO on funding for the National Endowment of the Arts
-Does not support abolishing the NEA
-Voted in favor of the Helms Amendment to withdraw Federal funding grants to art considered "obscene"
-An honorary member of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, 1997-present
-2007, proposed a bill to protect Indian arts and crafts

Dreyer also adds the following note about the process of collecting the information, which is very revealing:

"Finding information on Obama's and Clinton's positions on the arts was relatively easy. Both candidates support Federal funding for the arts and art education, and both have shown a lifelong commitment to preserving and strengthening the arts in America. John McCain, on the other hand, seems to have much less involvement in the arts. Although he does not suggest abolishing the NEA, he has voted against Federal funding for the NEA numerous times."

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