Art Works Blog

And now for a few words on the arts...

The Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy is an annual forum intended to stimulate dialogue on policy and social issues affecting the arts. The lecture is named to honor Nancy Hanks, second Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, who spent nearly two decades of her life fighting for strong and sustainable arts policies. Past Nancy Hank speakers have included writers, political leaders, musicians, actors, and CEOs. Though each speaker comes from a different profession and walk of life, all speakers share a common passion for the arts, offering insightful perspectives that remind us why we ourselves remain committed to the arts.

Tonight’s Nancy Hanks Lecture---the 26th annual---features Grammy award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma. A world-renowned performer, teacher, and arts advocate, Ma will share his own beliefs and thoughts on the necessity of the arts in our society. (Check out our Art Talk with him here.)

Here is what some past lecturers have had to say….

“Art needs to ask us, ‘What do we think is our reason for being on this earth? What do we think is our right to abide on this planet? What is our duty to the planet? To other forms of life, with whom we are connected? To our own species?’” --- Maya Angelou, poet, 1990

“Culture, wrote the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, is our answer to the challenges of life. It is the way we walk, and eat, and dance, and sing, and look, dress, dream, and struggle, and furnish our homes, and greet others, and pray, remember, desire, and love.” --- Carlos Fuentes, novelist, 1996

“Our arts demand and deserve that we recognize the life we have lived on this land together. In this time, we need to be educated in who we are, and with the arts, education extends far outside the classroom.” --- Wynton Marsalis, NEA Jazz Master and Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 2009

“A child who has never had his mind touched by a poem or a story will not know what it means to see a government burning books.” --- Leonard Garment, attorney and former White House Advisor, 1989

“A strong arts sector is an economic asset that stimulates business activity, attracting companies that want to offer their employees and clients a creative climate… funding for the arts is incontrovertibly one of the most important investments our society can make.” --- Alec Baldwin, actor, 2012

“We are all caring people, caring about the arts, caring about the future of the arts, caring about the federal role in the arts. It is the obligation of us all to support the arts. It is a deeply personal task in each of you.” --- Alan K. Simpson, former U.S. Senator, 1997

“Especially in the arts, you learn to bring out what is unique in you, to express yourself, your feelings, and to experience the incomparable high-octane lift of that.” --- David McCullough, historian, 1994

“But what is there that can transcend deep differences and stubborn divisions? I suggest the arts. They have a wonderful universality. Art has the potential to unify. It can speak in many languages without a translator. Art does not discriminate---it ignores external irrelevancies and opts for quality, talent, and competence.” --- Barbara Jordan, former U.S. Representative, 1993

“The arts reflect profoundly the most democratic credo, the belief in an individual vision or voice.” --- Wendy Wasserstein, playwright, 1999

You can watch a live stream of tonight's Nancy Hanks lecture at 6:30 EDT by visiting the American for the Arts' YouTube channel.

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