Arts and the People

August 28, 1963

Report Outline
The Higher Culture in a Democratic Society
Evidence of Spreading Interest in the Arts
Stages in American Cultural Progress
Art Problems and the Government

The Higher Culture in a Democratic Society

President kennedy will shortly announce the appointment of up to 30 leaders in the various arts to serve with heads of federal agencies as the President's Advisory Council on the Arts. Instituted by executive order on June 12, the Council will be the first federal body solely concerned with the broad range of American cultural life; its prescribed functions are to study the state of the arts in the nation and to advise the government on ways to encourage and protect a high level of cultural activity.

The President's recognition of the significant role of the arts in American life comes at a time when popular interest in cultural affairs is so widespread and intense as to have been characterized as a “cultural explosion.” The President observed, however, that “Public interest in the arts has not always been accompanied by adequate concern for the basic institutions of our cultural life.” Whatever the real character of current phenomena, there is wide agreement on the need of a new and more constructive relationship between government and the arts.

Vision of an American Cultural Renaissance

Shortly after the appointment of August Heckscher as the President's Special Consultant on the Arts in March 1962, he expressed the belief that the United States was “entering a period when in terms of the genius and ability of individual artists in all fields, and when in terms of the excitement and enthusiasm of the great public, we are witnessing a kind of renaissance such as we have not had before and which in the decades to come may well place us in the very forefront of the civilized world.”

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