"The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather paintings and poetry, music ... design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.” - First Lady Michelle Obama
A year after his election, President Obama has announced the 25 appointees for the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, a committee that focuses on and recognizes the excellence on the arts and humanities, education, and cultural diplomacy and understanding. The committee advises the president on cultural affairs and aims to encourage partnerships between the private and the public sectors.
The lineup of appointees represents the diversity of the arts. These private citizens, appointed by the President, include several actors: Edward Norton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, and Alfre Woodard. Also appointed from the cultural community are cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, theater director George C. Wolfe, ballet dancer Damien Woetzel, film producer Liz Manne, and architect Thom Mayne. However there is no representative of the visual arts as of yet.
The businesspeople and government officials who are very involved in the cultural world include: Minnesota State Senator Richard J. Cohen and wife of Senator John Kerry, Teresa Heinz.
This committee has served each Administration since 1982 and works with the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The PCAH is chaired by First Lady Michelle Obama. The chosen private individuals, with government agencies, work towards joining the people of the United States together and to engage them with the rest of humanity through the arts.