Oh, that Bernie. He knows just how to win us over. First he picks up an endorsement from the rapper (and one half of Outkast) Big Boi, and now he’s made a video promising to be an “arts president.”
In the video, produced by the Arts Action Fund, Sanders reflects on his time as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, explaining that in 1981, he helped establish the Burlington Arts Council. “At that time, way back when, it was almost unheard of to have a municipally funded and supported effort to promote the arts,” he says. The goal was to “unleash the creativity of our residents and harness the untold benefits that investments in the arts bring to communities.” He calls the creation of the council “one of my proudest achievements” as mayor.
Sanders then mentions his continued efforts in support of the arts in Congress and goes on to “promise that as president, I will be an arts president. I will continue to advocate strongly for robust funding of the arts in our cities, schools, and public spaces. Art is speech. Art is what life is about.” And it could just be the sound of that deep Brooklyn accent working on us — we brauwt the ahwts to neighbahood pahwks — but it’s thrilling.
The other much-discussed Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, has not yet released a video or directed statement about supporting the arts, as far as we know. The Arts Action Fund did recently post a short video of Clinton responding to a question about her stance on arts education. Her answer ultimately veers from the topic but is compelling:
I support arts education, I support the National Endowment for the Arts … because I really think that arts education is important on the merits. I was exposed to arts education in a public school system — and I’m no great artist, I think that’s probably well known to people — but it really gave me information and access to thinking about things differently than I would have.
The Republican candidates, meanwhile, are considering the arts indirectly, by mimicking them: the debates are a cross between performance art and reality TV, and Donald Trump is the terrifying star.