Association of Performing Arts Presenters Press Release

Six Presidential Hopefuls Announce Support for the Arts; Five Sign Pledge for the Arts
For Immediate Release:
Friday, January 16, 2004 
Ben Newbern, 202.518.8846
WASHINGTON - Six presidential candidates have announced their support for the performing arts, with five officially signing on to the American Arts Alliance's Pledge for the Arts. The Pledge gives each candidate an opportunity to explain the position their administration would take in promoting and supporting the arts in American society.

"Our country's security, the economy, the next generation's education, hinge on the ideology of our President. The importance of the arts in our country is no different. The broad approval of the Pledge by the candidates demonstrates that the arts are a presidential issue," said Sandra Gibson, chair of the American Arts Alliance (AAA). "We look forward to continuing this conversation with the candidates as Election Day approaches so the 2+ million citizens who attend performances each week know exactly who they are voting for when the principles of the arts are concerned."

According to an Urban Institute analysis of a household study in 2002, more than 80% of survey respondents agreed that the performing arts promote understanding of others and different ways of life. In addition, the survey also documented more people attended professional performing arts events in the last year than attended professional sporting events.

The presidential campaigns of Gen. Wesley Clark, Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Sen. Joe Lieberman have signed the AAA's Pledge for the Arts, which asks candidates to "support the performing arts as an essential element of our society, encourage creativity in our communities, promote global cultural diplomacy and exchange of the arts, and stimulate the circulation of arts and ideas."

Sen. John Edwards' campaign said it does not sign campaign pledges, but Edwards said "I strongly support the four principles in your Pledge for the Arts. The arts play an essential role in American life, and as President, I would nourish the arts within American education and culture." The campaigns of Pres. George W. Bush, Rep. Richard Gephardt, and Rev. Al Sharpton have not yet responded.

"The candidates' commitment to the arts acknowledges their understanding of the effect that the performing arts have on the daily lives of Americans, the value of the arts in our communities and classrooms," said Gibson. "As state and federal budget crises impact arts organizations and threaten cultural and artistic exchange, the arts community will look to our President to remind the nation of its importance."

Established in 1977, the AAA is the principal advocate for America's professional non-profit performing arts organizations. A 501(c)4 organization, the AAA Board of Directors is chaired by Sandra Gibson, President & CEO of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and its members include arts organizations Dance/USA, Opera America and Theatre Communications Group.