Here’s one reason Barack Obama has offered a more extensive arts policy than John McCain: He had help from some major intellectual powerhouses. In crafting what has been called the first far-reaching arts policy offered by a presidential contender, Obama turned to a committee of such artists as novelist Michael Chabon, and turned to them in spring 2007, long before he won the Democratic nomination:
The committee’s members include novelist Michael Chabon, Broadway director Hal Prince, Agnes Gund, musicians Eugenia and Pinchas Zukerman, Museum of Modern Art president emerita as well as Lynch, of Americans for the Arts.
The committee developed a program that advocates: the creation of an “Artists Corp” of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and communities; the expansion of public- private partnerships to increase cultural-education programs; increased funding for the NEA; a commitment to “cultural diplomacy”; attracting foreign talent in the arts; and providing health care to artists.
Obama also backs the “Artist-Museum Partnership Act” introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat. It would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the cost of materials, when they make charitable contributions.
Supporters of the legislation have said that the result would be more art in public spaces. It also demonstrates the roots of Obama’s reasoning in economic as well as philosophical realities.
John McCain, on the other hand, believes in local efforts to support the arts:
A brief statement on his Web site says that where “local priorities allow, he believes investing in arts education can play a role in nurturing the creativity of expression so vital to the health of our cultural life and providing a means of creative expression for young people.”