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Democracy and the Arts

Democracy and the Arts

Posted: November 20, 2018

More than a hundred people gathered in the Vermont State House last week for the annual Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony, which recognizes outstanding artists and arts advocates. Standing in the State House — underneath the beautiful newly gilded dome, one week after the midterm elections, the same week that the world marked the anniversaries of Kristallnacht and the armistice that ended World War I — I couldn’t help thinking about the connection between the arts and democracy. There have been days recently when I have felt rocked to the core. And I have wondered, as perhaps some of you have, what is happening to our democracy and to the values that I was taught to hold dear. What does it take for us to live well together, to treat each other with reason and civility and compassion? I’ve been thinking a lot about the arts as an essential component of the answer. Thomas Jefferson once famously said, “Democracy demands wisdom in its citizens.” I believe that’s true, but it’s only part of the truth. Democracy also demands art. Read More