Sunday, October 28, 2012

President John Kennedy on the Importance of the Arts

John Kennedy                 google image

"If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live." Address at Harvard University, June 14, 1956 

"There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age Elizabeth also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a New Frontier for American art." (Response to letter sent by Miss Theodate Johnson, Publisher of Musical America to the two presidential candidates requesting their views on music in relation to the Federal Government and domestic world affairs. Answer from then Senator John Kennedy was dated September 13, 1960.) 

"...I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." Closed-circuit television broadcast on behalf of the National Cultural Center from the National Guard Armory in Washington, D.C., November 29, 1962 

"To further the appreciation of culture among all the people, to increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art - this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days." Magazine article "The Arts in America" printed in the December 8, 1962 issue of Look. (This was part of a special adaptation of Creative America The Ridge Press, Inc., 1962.) 

"Too often in the past, we have thought of the artist as an idler and dilettante and of the lover of arts as somehow sissy and effete. We have done both an injustice. The life of the artist is, in relation to his work, stern and lonely. He has labored hard, often amid deprivation, to perfect his skill. He has turned aside from quick success in order to strip his vision of everything secondary or cheapening. His working life is marked by intense application and intense discipline." "The Arts in America," 1962 article by John F. Kennedy 

The Kennedy Center for the Arts         google image

"We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth." Amherst College, 10/26/63 

"I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft." Remarks at Amherst College, 1963 

"In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation." Remarks at Amherst College, 1963 

"It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society- in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may." Amherst College, 10/26/63 

"I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft." Amherst College, 10/26/63 

"The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation's purpose...and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization." Statement prepared for Creative America, 1963 (Inscribed at the Kennedy Center for the performing Arts)
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