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Is Bill Richardson the Arts Candidate?

Who would have thought that art would make it into last night’s Democratic Presidential debate?
It made a cameo appearance during the discussion of education, when Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico actually said the “A”-word.
Let’s go to the transcript:
RICHARDSON: I would have a major federal program of art in the schools…
(APPLAUSE)
… music, dancing, sculpture, and the arts.
(APPLAUSE)

Instead of “No Child Left Behind,” which most of the candidates seemed to repudiate, it could be: “No Child Left Uncultured.”
Arts education also received strong verbal, if not financial, support yesterday from New York Mayor (and possible presidential aspirant) Michael Bloomberg..
Jennifer Medina reports in today’s NY Times:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city’s Department of Education will require all schools to maintain arts programs, and that principals will be rated in their annual reviews on how well they run those programs.
The announcement came just months after the department infuriated arts groups by eliminating a multimillion-dollar program to finance arts education.

Art is also on the mind of France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is considering whether more of his countrymen might attend French museums if admission were free, according to Alan Riding in yesterday’s NY Times. But one of France’s most prominent cultural figures seems to be more of Richardson’s mind.
Riding reports:
“One learns to read at school, one doesn’t learn to see,” Pierre Rosenberg, the former president-director of the Louvre, wrote recently in the Paris daily Libération. “For decades art historians have been united in demanding that the history of art be required teaching in high schools.”
This, Rosenberg feels, is the key to attracting more of the French to their country’s tourist-thronged museums.
In any event, it’s refreshing that nationally prominent politicians are giving the arts even a few minutes of serious thought.
But I don’t know about turning political journalism over to YouTube videomakers. That leaves out a whole demographic—those of us (i.e., most of the middle-aged and elderly) who have never made a YouTube video. Some of the older people who did pose a question for last night’s debate were accompanied by their more tech-savvy kids.

an ArtsJournal blog