more change we can believe in (u.s.-cuba cultural relations)

Among the many positive and necessary changes the Obama administration can make with your support is the reinstatement of cultural exchange between the US and Cuba --restoring a connection that shaped centuries of history and which invigorated the arts and humanized relations for a decade, until the Bush administration shut such positive activity down.

Not a single Cuban musician who intended to return to the island has performed in the U.S. since 2003.

(Here's a link to a Village Voice piece of mine about this situation that ran four years and a day ago; sadly, it is just as relevant today.)

And here's your chance to help change this situation, as part of a chorus of voices -- artists of all disciplines, scholars, journalists, critics, arts industry professionals, non profit arts presenters and supporters.

At that site you'll find the letter, reproduced below, to President Obama calling for improved cultural and scholarly relations with Cuba. It originated with the US-Cuba Cultural Exchange:

A list of current signatories is included. Any questions can be directed to Louis Head:

Also, artists and heads of major organizations should contact Louis Head directly in order to verify signatures. All signers should include affiliation and city of residence.

Letter from U.S. Artists, Arts Presenters, Arts Educators and Cultural Scholars in support of Cultural Relations with Cuba

Online at

En español


February 17, 2009


President Barack Obama

The White House

Washington, DC

Dear President Obama:

We are artists, arts presenters, arts educators, cultural entrepreneurs and scholars, and cultural heritage and policy professionals from diverse political persuasions. We have been adversely affected by the cultural embargo imposed by the U.S. government against both Cuban and American artists and cultural institutions. We are writing to request that you make concrete changes in U.S. policy towards Cuba that will allow for the uninhibited flow of art, culture, information, ideas and debates, as well as travel by artists, cultural workers and professionals, and arts and cultural aficionados between the two countries.

U.S. policies towards Cuba - worsened many times over by the previous administration and criticized throughout the world - have prevented us from engaging in critical communication and collaboration with our Cuban counterparts, compromising our nation's cherished ideals of freedom of expression and preventing cultural interchange between two societies that share a historic relationship lasting over two centuries.

In 2007 we requested policy changes from the Bush Administration so that respectful, critical dialogue and principled exchange could take place between the peoples of Cuba and the United States and our respective governments. Our petition fell on deaf ears. As citizens, artists, scholars, educators and cultural workers from all artistic practices and from advocacy and service organizations in the arts, we now call upon your Administration to:

1. open a respectful dialogue with the government and people of Cuba in accord with established protocols supported by the community of nations;

2. end the travel ban that prevents U.S. citizens from visiting Cuba, and allow for Cuban artists and scholars to visit the United States, thus eliminating the censorship of art and ideas, and

3. initiate, by working with the U.S. Congress, a process that can result in the development of normal, respectful bilateral relations between our countries.

The artistic and cultural communities in the United States and in Cuba are catalysts of imagination and creativity. We are committed to serve as bridges for our fellow citizens. Now, we need our government to take leadership and re-open the pathways of exchange.

We look forward to working with you to advance the interests of the United States and of Cuba.


Michael Alexander, Executive Director/Chair, Grand Performances/CAC, Los Angeles, CA


Mavis Anderson, US-Cuba Cultural Exchange, Washington, DC


David Asbell, Executive Director, Lobero Theater Foundation, Santa Barbara, CA


Beth Boone, Artistic & Executive Director, Miami Light Project, Miami, FL


Joe Boyd, Record Producer and Author, London, England


Bill Bragin, Director of Public Programming, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts*, New York, NY


Vinie Burrows, Actor & UN Representative, Womens Intl Democratic Federation, New York, NY


Jim Cassell, The Berkeley Agency, Berkeley, CA


Regina Cervantes, 9/11 Rescue Worker, Cast of SiCKO*, Yukon, OK


Hector Cruz-Sandoval, Filmmaker/Producer, Los Angeles, CA


James Early, Artists and Intellectuals in Defense of Humanity, Washington, DC


Jacob Edgar, President, Cumbancha, Charlotte, VT


Cynthia Elliott, Executive Director, Symphony Space, New York, NY


Steve Frumkin, President, Jim Wadsworth Productions Agency, Cleveland, OH


Keith Ghion, President, Geodesic Management, New York, NY


Rob Gibson, Executive & Artistic Director, Savannah Music Festival, Savannah, GA


Tom Gold, Agent, The Rosebud Agency, San Francisco, CA


David Gonzalez, Ph.D, Poet/Storyteller, Nyack, NY


Jose Griego, Ph.D., President, Northern New Mexico College, Espanola, NM


Louis Head, US-Cuba Cultural Exchange, Albuquerque, NM


Marguerite Horberg, Chicago, IL


Suki John, Specialist on Cuban Dance, Ft. Worth, TX


Mike Kappus, President, The Rosebud Agency, San Francisco, CA


Robert Kraft, President, Fox Music, Los Angeles, CA


Craig Knudsen, President, Knudsen Productions, Berkeley, CA


Vivien Lesnik Weisman, Filmmaker, Santa Monica, CA


Linda Lucero, Executive/Artistic Director, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, San Francisco, CA


Ev Mann, Executive Director, Center for Creative Education, Kingston, NY


Dave Marsh, Writer-Broadcaster, Editor, Rock-Rap Confidential, Norwalk, CT


Bill Martínez, Martínez & Associates, San Francisco, CA


Tom Miller, Author, Tucson, AZ


Kevin Murray, Senior Vice-President, William Morris Agency, Beverly Hills, CA


Dafnis Prieto, Musician, New York, NY


Margaret Randall, Poet, Albuquerque, NM


Joe Randel, Director, ArtesAméricas, University of Texas Performing Arts Center, Austin, TX


Arturo Riera, Chairman of the Board, San Jose Jazz, San Francisco, CA


Ann Rosenthal, Executive Director, MultiArts Projects & Productions, New York, NY


Bernard Rubenstein, Conductor, Copland/Gershwin New Music Group, Santa Fe, NM


David Rubinson, Music Producer, San Francisco, CA


Cynthia Semon, Media Consultant & Promoter, Los Angeles, CA


Lian Calvo Serrano, Booking Agent, Tempest Entertainment, New York, NY


Bill Smith, Booking Agent, Eye for Talent, San Francisco, CA


Isabel Soffer, World Music Institute, New York, NY


Vicki Sola, Writer/Broadcaster, Teaneck, NJ


Ned Sublette, Independent Scholar, New York, NY


Jim Wadsworth, Music Promoter, Jim Wadsworth Productions Agency, Cleveland, OH


Cindi Younker, Director of Programs, Buckman Arts Center, Memphis, TN


Isabel Yrigoyen, Presenter/Producer, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA


Erica D. Zielinski, General Manager, Lincoln Center Festival, New York, NY

(more signatories listed at site)



January 20, 2009 10:41 AM |


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