Are candidates hiding from the arts?

April 18, 2008
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Political candidates are all over the state these days, grabbing photo ops wherever they can … except, it seems, at arts events.

Think about it: When was the last time you saw a candidate - local or national - posing in a theater, grip-and-greeting at a concert or holding a press conference in an art gallery?

Why does association with the arts cause so much fear among those running for office?

Is the concern about the “elitist” label keeping them away? Or are these politicians genuinely not interested?

Should we only expect to see a U.S. president in a theater seat during the annual Kennedy Center Honors telecast?

Your thoughts?
  • I am so glad this was sent to my attention. I am quite active in this years presidental
    election, supporting a specific candidate. I have, however, been very disappointed
    with supports of the arts in the elections. I have read a bit about Senator Obama's
    interest in raising national arts funds, however I haven't seen anyone visit artists, of any sorts.

    I do know locally, that Dr. Woody Myers (running for Congress) has been pretty active
    visiting with musicians and artists. One of his cousins is a local artist, and I think
    that has helped expose the truth about the Indianapolis arts scene, and helped
    him realize how important it is to connect with us.

    Thanks again for bringing this up, and perhaps it'll bring more attention to this!
  • Maybe some of the avoidance is the other way around. Some arts organizations might not want to associate themselves openly with any candidate, for fear of alienating part of their potential clientele and/or audience.

    If Hillary Clinton or John McCain visits a local bar or diner, that's all just good publicity for the owner - It's tough to politicize a cheesesteak.* Since art is regularly scrutinized, assaulted, and/or co-opted by those seeking to use it to make a political point, I can see why some arts purveyors might want to avoid tying thier organizations publicly to one of the candidates.

    Keeping the candidates away from your theatre, gallery, or concert hall might just be good politics for everyone concerned.

    *Yes, I'm aware of animal rights activism. That's not the point.
  • Congratulations to Brian for being the first poster on this blog to include a footnote.

  • When I worked at the Eiteljorg Museum a number of years ago, Mayor Peterson held a press conference there to announce something to do with his Latino commission -- and he chose that site because we happened to have a Latino art exhibit at the time, so it was a great visual backdrop.
  • Politicians don't appear at bars or diners to support the cause, but to look like just like you. Appearing at an Arts event might indeed be spun as some sort of evidence of elitism, especially by political Party that decries East Coast Ivy Leaguers and seems to mock the well educated . . . except for the ones that are members of their own Party, of course. In the end, a poltician will try to avoid potential trouble by simply avoiding such backdrops. Just another result of the dumbing-down of American politics.
  • Each of them wants to appear as broad stroke, gray-colored, normal as they possibly can. If they say... go...what was it Kerry did? Sail surfing? Well, that's just weird. Who does that? Do you hold hands with leaders of other cultures Cuz that's how them folk do it.... Well, that's just weird. Who does that? Do you show up at TOTS' latest prodution of DIE MOMMY DIE?... Well...


    Life is the greatest fairy tale Hans Christian Anderson
  • Art and theater are more quite and personal events. A candidate can't talk to the people and look at a work of art or watch a play at the same time. They can eat, play sports and still meet
  • Too, attending arts events would take a big chunk of time in a busy candidate's life. Too show up and disappear during the middle of Act 1 might be wrongly (or rightly) construed as an attempt to exploit the event. Better to avoid it altogether.

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