Should the U.S. Have a Secretary of Culture? The Answer is Yes.
I came across a thought piece in the Atlantic this morning asking this very question. I may be biased because I intend to become a musician, but I feel that this cabinet post should have been created a long time ago. In major cities, Artists are four to five percent of the total working population, and many do not receive the benefits of their peers. Think about it: most artists freelance. Many make enough to support themselves by freelancing alone, but where are the health benefits? During my semester abroad in Finland last year, I made many shocking discoveries about musicians. For instance, I was sitting in the audience at a Finnish Radio Symphony concert. I was speaking to my friend, a Finnish Citizen, and he casually mentioned that each and every member of this orchestra was on government salary. In addition, these musicians get to reap the benefits of free universal healthcare provided to every Finnish citizen. There are three other government -funded orchestras as well as a fully-funded jazz band. Imagine the American equivalent: Wynton Marsalis’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on full salary plus health insurance.
So why am I blabbing about the European artists and how good they have it? Simply recognizing artistry on the government level and adding a Secretary of Culture could change the face of The Arts for the United States. It could possibly keep schools from cutting their arts programs and eliminate the “starving” from “starving artist”. It would finally give representation to the hard-working artists in our society. Here at Urban Gateways, we recognize the importance of the arts and how they positively affect the children we work with. Adding this position would be an extremely progressive step in emphasizing how important the arts are to each and every one of us.