Opinion: Suggestions for the incoming Biden administration on prioritizing the arts

Posted on: January 14, 2021

“Professional creative artists are facing unemployment at rates well above the national average—more than 52 percent of actors and 55 percent of dancers were out of work in the third quarter of the year, at a time when the national unemployment rate was 8.5 percent,” write Jason Farago in Wednesday’s (1/13) New York Times. “The effects of this cultural depression will be excruciating, and not only for the symphony not written, the dance not choreographed … the musical not staged…. Culture is also an industry sector accounting for more than 4.5 percent of this country’s gross domestic product…. As President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepares to take office next week, and begins to flesh out his proposals to help the nation recover, he and his cabinet have the chance—the responsibility—to offer a new settlement for American culture…. As the economy recovers, [society] is going to require major social catharsis—and he needs to ensure that the arts are still there to provide it.” Suggestions for the incoming administration include a “new, federal cultural works project”; improving unemployment benefits for independent contractors and gig workers; and establishing a White House Office for Culture led by “a Dr. Fauci of culture.”