See America Posters - if only government sponsored ads were still this cool...time for a change?

See America Posters - if only government sponsored ads were still this cool...time for a change?

He writes his own books—both landed on the New York Times Bestsellers List. He listens to music as mixed as he is—Howlin’ World to Yo-Yo Ma to Sheryl Crow to Jay-Z fills his ipod playlists. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was a ballet dancer turned politician. And Obama’s own grassroots presidential campaign inspired a political art movement without precedent (check out my November post “A Portrait of Hope”…).

Obama is a cultural giant. And big government is back. This could mean good things for the arts.

Obama’s campaign was sympathetic towards and strongly rooted in our nation’s cultural issues. The Obama-Biden ticket promised a new arts policy—fighting away the copyright-obsessed world of creative expression and fighting for a new kind of accessibility to America’s best cultural forms.

Some see the establishment of a secretary of culture/arts as the next obvious step. But I know (as much as you do) that a new secretary isn’t what we need. Even Quincy Jones commendable fight for such a secretary and his online petition (just shy of 250,000 signatures) isn’t enough for to think otherwise.

What we need is action. And I think the president’s swift and strong actions as lifeguard to a drowning Uncle Sam are an optimistic start. His new economic recovery plan is a beefy “yes we can” initiative that’s better than a Band-Aid for the bad fall of our big businesses.

Investments in clean energy and green jobs are also stuffed into this bright package, tied up with the promise of some 1.6 million green jobs and a 65 million ton reduction in carbon emissions. Cross- agency initiatives are proven to work.

So lets take it a step further. If Obama can simultaneously save trees and our fiscal future, he sure as hell can reinvigorate art in America. History’s your proof.

The "See America" posters--part of FDR's New Deal--still sell today, but for something less than a good deal.

The "See America" posters--part of FDR's New Deal--still sell today, but for something less than a good deal.

In 1935, FDR formed the Federal Art Project, as part of his Depression-era New Deal program. More than 2,000 murals, 17,000 sculptures, and 100,000 paintings, created by out-of-work artists were loaned to schools and libraries across the country. If Roosevelt can put 4,000 out-of-work visual artists and thousands more unemployed writers to work in the midst of an economic mudslide, why can’t we?

It’s understandable that in hard economic times, a federal overall of America’s rich cultural tradition seems unrealistic, maybe even idiotic. I’m not calling for an art-induced coma to take over America. Let’s not all go paint a sunny-sky mural on the side of any available brick building. But lets utilize America’s creative work force in this time of economic trouble: to create new jobs and renew a dedication to our arts and culture.

Street Artist Fairey's big day at the gallery

Street Artist Fairey's big day at the gallery

And if nothing else then just think back to Jan. 14, when Shepard Fairey’s iconic portrait of President Obama was added to the permanent collection at the National Gallery. To me it’s an example of Obama’s literal connection to the arts, as well as a symbolic gesture of the alliance between government and the arts that’s waiting anxiously in the wings.

~ Sarah Parker

Comments
  1. Katie says:

    I’m sorry, I’d love to read this but it’s so fricken long. Please cut it in half for next time.

  2. Liam says:

    We don’t have a foreign bureau. Let us do the editing.

  3. Katie says:

    Hey, I know! I’m just saying…

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