Arts Need a New Deal, Too

Cultural anthropologist suggests President Obama appoint arts cabinet
By Victoria Floethe,  Newser User
Posted Jan 21, 2009 7:40 PM CST
Dancers of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform during a dress rehearsal in Istanbul, Turkey.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Fifty years after FDR’s Public Works Art Project paid and promoted American talent, President Obama has people dreaming of a new deal for arts, cultural anthropologist Patricia Williams Lessane writes in Ebony. While division spawned the Harlem Renaissance, Lessane is hopeful an arts resurgence would be “born out of inter-racial solidarity,” and offers suggestions on how a New Deal Arts Project might work.

Her vision: establish a cabinet of artists and educators to develop a template for funding arts at the local level, and mount nationwide competitions for undiscovered geniuses. “Given the new flavor that Mr. and Mrs. Obama share with their inner circle of culturally aware friends,” Lessane writes, “a recalibration should be well on its way.”