Monday, October 26, 2009


“We believe strongly that the arts aren't somehow an 'extra’ part of our national life, but instead we feel that the arts are at the heart of our national life. It is through our music, our literature, our art, drama and dance that we tell the story of our past and we express our hopes for the future. Our artists challenge our assumptions in ways that many cannot and do not. They expand our understandings, and push us to view our world in new and very unexpected ways….. "It's through this constant exchange -- this process of taking and giving, this process of borrowing and creating -- that we learn from each other and we inspire each other. It is a form of diplomacy in which we can all take part…."And you don't need to be rich or powerful to lift your voice in song or get out of your seat and shake your groove thing. [Laughter.] You don't need to be a Van Gogh to paint a picture, or a Maya Angelou to write a poem. You don't need a Grammy or an Oscar or an Emmy to make your work on the cultural life of your community or your country a valuable one. "And ... people who might not speak a single word of the same language, who might not have a single shared experience, might still be drawn together when their hearts are lifted by the notes of a song, or their souls are stirred by a vision on a canvas. "That is the power of the arts -- to remind us of what we each have to offer, and what we all have in common; to help us understand our history and imagine our future; to give us hope in the moments of struggle; and to bring us together when nothing else will. That is what we celebrate here today.” Photos: Michelle Obama hosting concert in Pittsburgh (top); Obamas at Kennedy Center in February, to see Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre performance. Credit: Eric Feferberg / AP/AFP/Getty Images; Joshua Roberts / Pool/EPA -LA Times

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