Michelle Obama and the arts

May 19, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Not content with just catching a show at the Kennedy Center, first lady Michelle Obama made a clear statement with this week's trip to New York: She sees value in the arts and is interested in promoting them.

And not just mass appeal arts. On Monday, she attended opening night at the American Ballet Theatre and the reopening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Amercan Wing.

“My husband and I believe strongly that arts education is essential for building innovative thinkers who will be our nation’s leaders of tomorrow,” Michelle Obama is quoted as saying. (See full New York Times story here.)

So what does it mean to have an arts advocate or two in the White House? How do you expect their advocacy to impact life here in the Heartland?

And if Michelle Obama were to visit here for one arts event, what would you show her?

Your thoughts?
  • I would show her the Asante Children's Theatre in performance at the Walker Theatre Center. Then I would show her the new Central Library, which may not be the arts, but certainly is masterful architecture.
  • I agree with the LA Times on the subject: Yawn.


    Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, whoever; all first ladies are cheerful enthusiasts of culture. That's most of their job and they don't do much more. Yawn.
  • E.E.,
    This doesn't sound like any other First Lady I remember:

    Our future as an innovative country depends on ensuring that everyone has access to the arts and to cultural opportunity. Nearly 6 million people make their living in the non-profit arts industry, and arts and cultural activities contribute more than $160 billion to our economy every year. And trust me, I tried to do my part to add to that number.

    The President included an additional $50 million in funding to the NEA in the stimulus package to preserve jobs in state arts agencies and regional arts organizations in order to keep them up and running during the economic downturn.

    But the intersection of creativity and commerce is about more than economic stimulus, it’s also about who we are as people. The President and I want to ensure that all children have access to great works of art at museums like the one here. We want them to have access to great poets and musicians in theaters around the country, to arts education in their schools and community workshops.

    Read full text of her speech here. [http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-First-Lady-at-the-Ribbon-Cutting-Ceremony-at-the-Metropolitan-Museum-of-Art-American-Wing/]

  • It's called politics. Nothing more.
  • If Mrs. Obama wants to make the arts her cause, good for her. Hopefully she will still have time to be concerned about education, health care and other important causes.
  • Lou,

    I think the odd thing about your entry above was the statement She sees value in the arts and is interested in promoting them as if she's the first and only to do so. I'm not how many first ladies you've paid attention to, but they all have done the same over the years, and they are all very active and usually very focused in supporting their particular causes. Check out any Wikipedia entry for any first lady in the last 30 years.

    And what exactly does she mean by And trust me, I tried to do my part to add to that number mean, anyway?
  • I agree that it's purely political. If Mrs. Obama had cited examples of her involvement with promoting the arts prior to her husband's election, I might feel otherwise. She's associating with the Kennedy's to further the political agenda.
  • This week's statements from the First Lady, combined with, among other things, the administration's boost to the NEA, the first inauguration poem since Clinton (as lame as it was), and the dedication to bringing arts into the White House (http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/05/12/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5009017.shtml) feels like a change to me.

  • I guess we'll have to agree to disagree...

    On another note, I just noticed that the Bloomington Early Music Festival (http://www.blemf.org/festival.html) is showing the 1922film Robin Hood on Sunday, accompanied by Hesperus. I've seen the Alloy Orchestra accompany silent films at the Telluride Film Festival, and it was an unexpectedly delightful experience every time. If I were in Indianapolis this weekend, I'd definitely be driving down to Bloomington to see (and hear) it.
  • E.E.
    Good find with Robin Hood.
    FYI: As I mentioned earlier, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra will be providing live music for Harold Lloyd's Safety Last this season.

Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. Hiking blocks to an office after fighting traffic is not logical. Having office buildings around the loop, 465 and in cities in surrounding counties is logical. In other words, counties around Indianapolis need office buildings like Keystone, Meridian, Michigan Road/College Park and then no need to go downtown. Financial, legal, professional businesses don't need the downtown when Carmel, Fishers, North Indy are building their own central office buildings close to the professionals. The more Hamilton, Boone county attract professionals, the less downtown is relevant. Highrises have no meaning if they don't have adequate parking for professionals and clients. Great for show, but not exactly downtown Chicago, no lakefront, no river to speak of, and no view from highrises of lake Michigan and the magnificent mile. Indianapolis has no view.

  2. "The car count, THE SERIES, THE RACING, THE RATINGS, THE ATTENDANCE< AND THE MANAGEMENT, EVERY season is sub-par." ______________ You're welcome!

  3. that it actually looked a lot like Sato v Franchitti @Houston. And judging from Dario's marble mouthed presentation providing "color", I'd say that he still suffers from his Dallara inflicted head injury._______Considering that the Formula E cars weren't going that quickly at that exact moment, that was impressive air time. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, as Dallara is the only car builder that needs an FAA certification for their cars. But flying Dallaras aren't new. Just ask Dan Wheldon.

  4. Does anyone know how and where I can get involved and included?

  5. While the data supporting the success of educating our preschoolers is significant, the method of reaching this age group should be multi-faceted. Getting business involved in support of early childhood education is needed. But the ways for businesses to be involved are not just giving money to programs and services. Corporations and businesses educating their own workforce in the importance of sending a child to kindergarten prepared to learn is an alternative way that needs to be addressed. Helping parents prepare their children for school and be involved is a proven method for success. However, many parents are not sure how to help their children. The public is often led to think that preschool education happens only in schools, daycare, or learning centers but parents and other family members along with pediatricians, librarians, museums, etc. are valuable resources in educating our youngsters. When parents are informed through work lunch hour workshops in educating a young child, website exposure to exceptional teaching ideas that illustrate how to encourage learning for fun, media input, and directed community focus on early childhood that is when a difference will be seen. As a society we all need to look outside the normal paths of educating and reaching preschoolers. It is when methods of involving the most important adult in a child's life - a parent, that real success in educating our future workers will occur. The website www.ifnotyouwho.org is free and illustrates activities that are research-based, easy to follow and fun! Businesses should be encouraging their workers to tackle this issue and this website makes it easy for parents to be involved. The focus of preschool education should be to inspire all the adults in a preschooler's life to be aware of what they can do to prepare a child for their future life. Fortunately we now know best practices to prepare a child for a successful start to school. Is the business community ready to be involved in educating preschoolers when it becomes more than a donation but a challenge to their own workers?