The above small article ran in the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday, September 15. It was a sidebar to an article about education. Obviously Ike understood the importance of art, since he had taxpayers foot the bill for a White House Staffer to prepare his materials. I’m assuming he didn’t wash out his brushes either. I say, money well spent. However, It got me to thinking. What have some of our other nation’s leaders said on the subject of the arts? So I did a Google search, and this is what I came up with–in chronological order.
The Arts and Sciences, essential to the prosperity of the State and to the ornament of human life, have a primary claim to the encouragement of every lover of his country and mankind.
I must study politics and war, that my sons may study mathematics and philosophy…in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, music and architecture.
I presume, sir, in painting your beautiful portrait, you took your idea of me from my principles, and not from my person.
Franklin D. Roosevelt:
Every time an artist dies, part of the vision of mankind passes with him.
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
I see little of more importance to the future of our country and of civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist. If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
Aeschylus and Plato are remembered today long after the triumphs of Imperial Athens are gone. Dante outlived the ambitions of thirteenth century Florence. Goethe stands serenely above the politics of Germany, and I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over cities, we too will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.
There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age Elizabeth also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a New Frontier for American art
The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose- and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.
We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.
Lyndon B. Johnson:
Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.
Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them – a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.
Music is about communication, creativity, and cooperation, and by studying music in schools, students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives, and experience the world from a new perspective.
In addition to giving our children the science and math skills they need to compete in the new global context, we should also encourage the ability to think creatively that comes from a meaningful arts education.
The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.
Until next time…