Three More Comments from Left Field
1. Jane Remer suggests that Americans have always been gun-shy about the high arts. It seems a little more complex than that. Look at Lawrence W. Levine's book "Highbrow Lowbrow," and in particular his long chapter on Americans' obsession with Shakespeare up until the late 19th century, for a corrective.
2. This debate seems to focus on school children, but the Rand report carries the discussion through higher education and beyond. I have long thought that one simple solution to stimulating demand for the high arts (esp. the expensive performing arts) would be cheaper tickets. All sorts of scatter-shot programs have been attempted, privately and publicly funded, at individual theaters or locally or statewide, to address this. Problem is, as I observed when I ran the Lincoln Center Festival, that simply lowering ticket prices may well attract more people, but mostly more people of the same demographic as those who buy the higher-priced seats. There have been all kinds of experiments with student seats, student rush seats, etc., many of them promising. Just now the British Arts Council is about to name theaters in Britain that will receive grants to provide one million free tickets to anyone under the age of 26.
3. Barack Obama had a fairly detailed arts plank in his platform (John McCain had none). There's a petition going around the Internet -- I have no idea what traction it is getting -- to urge Obama to appoint a cabinet-level Arts Secretary. Surely doing so would go a long way to defuse the idea of the arts as a "special interest" and to focus national attention on the subject.
Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA);
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA;
Laura Zakaras, RAND;
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago;
Richard Kessler, Executive Director, Center for Arts Education;
Eric Booth, Actor;
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music;
Kiff Gallagher, Founder & CEO of the Music National Service Initiative and MusicianCorps
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education;
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation;
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation;
John Rockwell, critic;
Susan Sclafani, Managing Director, Chartwell Education Group;
Jane Remer, Author, Educator, Researcher
Michael Hinojosa, General Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District
Peter Sellars, director
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