Culture and arts have been a very significant part of the American civilization and way of life since time immemorial. The American history witnessed the birth of numerous American icons in literature, music, as well as arts which shaped and defined the American culture as we know it today. However, the United States is one of the many countries in the world that do not have a government department in order to promote the education and appreciation of its arts and culture.
Because of this, many concerned individuals have made efforts and expressed their desire to push for the creation of a governmental office which addresses the needs of the artistic industry in the United States. Quincy Jones, a well-known artist, is one of the many people who are distraught by the fact that the United States does not have its own ministry for the arts. In one instance, Jones visited a school wherein he asked one of the students if he knew artists such as Louise Armstrong.
The student replied that he has heard the name but is not familiar with him. After such, Jones asked the student again if he knew John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. Sadly, the student replied that he did not have any idea who they were. Jones was dismayed by the reaction given by the students and even stated, “He didn’t even know their names. That hurts me a lot” (Trescott) Thus, Jones is currently leading a petition for the creation of a ministry to advocate arts education.
It seems ironic and disheartening that a nation with a rich, diversified culture and society such as the United States, which is home to prominent writers, painters, musician, and other kinds of artists, does not prioritize the need to create ways to promote and preserve such artistic abilities. However, there are various centers such as “the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Smithsonian Institute, the National Gallery of Art, and the Holocaust Museum” which are few of the government funded and supported institutes that maintain the art-related programs (Trescott).
There are also independent organizations which promote the maintenance and appreciation of arts and culture. Nevertheless, it is not enough to educate Americans and increase their awareness on the abounding artistic works and masterpieces created by fellow Americans. Thus, the government should establish a governmental department solely devoted to the advocacy and development of artistic sense and culture of the United States, as it defines the face and identity of the country—what the nation is made of and what it has to offer (Trescott).
A glimmer of hope surfaced as the chance of establishing a government department devoted to the arts and culture was expected to increase with the current regime of Barack Obama in line with the goals envisioned by his administration: “to stimulate the economy, put aside divisive politics and promote American culture” (Capps). Sadly however, the United States is in need of funding to support the activities to enrich the American culture and arts. Due to the massive downfall of the economy, there is a great possibility that this appeal would not be given much attention.
However, according to Ben Adler of the Atlantic Monthly Business Channel, enriching arts is one way of promoting the economy due to the jobs they can create: “Every year nonprofit arts generate $166. 2 B in economic activity, support 5. 7 million jobs, and send almost $30 B back to government, according to Americans for the Arts” (qtd. in Capps). Michael Kaiser of “John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts” seems to agree: “Right now, we have an ecology of the arts that is very scary.
We need a proactive person, or agency, that is going to talk to foundations, the state agencies, the organizations about this situation” (qtd. in Trescott). In addition to this, Grammy-award winner Herbie Hancock, jazz composer and pianist observed that the arts have become a “thing” for those that have the capacity to pay for the education (qtd. in Ballasy). Hence, by focusing on the arts, the government could provide a variety of interests for the children apart from those of the academic sense.
Students must not only be exposed to academic learning but also to arts to make them smarter and give children other means to explore their potential. He believes that exposure to arts could benefit the children and bring more opportunities for growth: “I think that the fact that children who have been exposed to the arts are affected in an amazingly positive way and it affects their sense of hope – hope for advancing, hope for going to college” (Hancock qtd. in Ballasy). In the end, the United States truly has to have a department of culture which will enhance the knowledge of people with the rich culture of the United States.
Having a ministry that will provide education, maintenance, and promotion of arts will create a deeper understanding of what culture means to Americans. Similar to Europe, the United States must realize the potential of the richly and uniquely intertwined cultures that have resulted in what we have come to know today as the modern American culture. There are organizations, both publicly and privately funded, which address certain needs of the American arts, but then, those organizations are not enough to explore, advocate, and appreciate the modern arts and culture of the diversified United States.
The creation of a ministry solely dedicated to the culture and arts advocacy and education will not only enrich the American culture but also the future of the children in United States. Arts are not only meant for entertainment and enjoyment, but they are also an instrument to enhance creativity and intellect. Therefore, a ministry of culture must be encouraged in order to further promote and develop the rich culture of the United States and its people.