Now that Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States, he will begin to put his ambitious plan for the country in motion. Of special importance to poets and writers is his stated agenda for the arts. According to the president elect’s Web site, “[T]he arts should be a central part of effective teaching and learning.”
Obama proposes to expand arts programs by developing partnerships between schools and private arts organizations and to create an “artist corps” of young artists trained to work in low-income school districts. He also supports an increase in funding to the National Endowment for the Arts.
For professional artists, who are often independently employed, the Obama-Biden healthcare plan promises to make healthcare more affordable. Obama also supports a tax amendment that will allow artists to deduct the market value of their work—not just supplies—when making charitable donations.
The arts platform is about more than art itself. Obama says he views art as a way to help maintain global competitiveness and improve our economy by encouraging creative, innovative thinking. On his Web site, he reminds readers that, as in the Cold War when the country deployed artistic ambassadors, art can help us “win the war of ideas [against Islamic extremism] by demonstrating to the world the promise of America."
During a series of question and answers following his speech in Fairfax, Virginia, last Thursday, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama made some comments about writing and reading.
During the long presidential campaign season that finally ends tomorrow, Americans have read extensively about Barack Obama and John McCain. But what do the candidates themselves read? Last week, they shared their favorite books with CBS News anchor Katie Couric.