Do the Candidates
Support the Arts?
Day 2012 is quickly approaching. Through public appearances and ads
wherever you look, the candidates have been making their case for your
vote. Between U.S. and State representatives New Yorkers will be
deciding on 241 seats. While there are certainly many important issues
to take into account when casting a ballot, I wanted to know how our
local political contenders support the arts.
So I set out to
discover where hopeful candidates stood on the arts. This was a much
more difficult task than I had imagined. Many different organizations
ask candidates to complete questionnaires revealing their position on
certain issues. Health Care, the economy, the environment, education,
gun control, Afghanistan and several other topics are universal to most
position polls. The Arts and Humanities however... is a topic that is
often not included in the questions asked. In those questionnaires where
the arts are included, candidates will often skip the question. Even
candidates who have a strong history of supporting the arts are
reluctant to articulate their stance on this issue.
Obama took office in 2009, he was the first President ever to enter
office with a plan for the arts. However, if you look at his website
today, the arts is no longer included in the list of issues that he is
Most candidates will release official statements
about their position on a variety of topics, but you will be hard
pressed to find a candidate who has an official statement about arts and
culture. Even Catherine Wark - who is an artist - does not have an
official policy on the arts.
When the Democratic National
Committee released their National Platform in September, it included a
statement of support for the arts:"Arts and Culture.
Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education. We
are committed to continuing the policies and programs that have already
done so much for our creative arts industry and economy. Investment in
the arts strengthens our communities and contributes to our nation's
rich cultural heritage. We will continue to support public funding for
the National Endowment for the Arts, for the National Endowment for the
Humanities, and for programs providing art and music education in
primary and secondary schools. The entire nation prospers when we
protect and promote the unique and original artistic and cultural
contributions of the women and men who create and preserve our nation's
Americans for the Arts requested an official
stand from Governor Romney on this topic but has yet to receive a
response. You can check out their website
for updates to see if they receive it in the next couple of weeks.
how do you know if the arts are important to your candidates? Well,
each year Americans for the Arts scores incumbent candidates from the
U.S. Senate and House of Representatives based on: their voting record
on items such as arts funding, committee memberships, sponsorship of
pro-arts legislation, and other pro-arts activities and issues a grade.
This is very helpful, but it only provides information about the
incumbents and not their rivals. Also, it only provides information for
national seats and not state or local seats.
After two days of
researching NY candidates' positions; reading their statements, websites
and blogs; reviewing questionnaires; scanning newspaper articles and
searching countless pieces of key legislature, I was disappointed with
You can check out my findings here
(scroll to the bottom of the page). I'll update it over the next few
weeks as I uncover more information. And if you know information about
where these candidates stand on the arts, please email me [shay at
nyitawards dot com] and I will include your insights.
DID YOU KNOW...
86% of OOB practitioners voted in the 2004 presidential election. This is 22% higher than the national average of 64%.