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The MIT Office of the Arts will present "The Public Patron: Drafting a Mandate for a Federal Arts Agency," a national conference to examine the roles and responsibilities of a federal arts agency in the United States today.
The objective of the conference, to be held June 18-19 at MIT, is to encourage critical debate and develop innovative positions on issues to be taken up when Congress convenes hearings on the reauthorization of the National Endowment for the Arts, scheduled for this summer.
The conference will feature keynote addresses by Senator Edward Kennedy and author and Time Magazine art critic Robert Hughes on the evening of Friday, June 18. Senator Kennedy (D-MA) is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, which will oversee the upcoming NEA reauthorization hearings. Robert Hughes is the best-selling author of The Fatal Shore, Barcelona, and The Shock of the New. His most recent book, The Culture of Complaint, a critique of American politics and culture, has received enthusiastic reviews from the New York Times and The New Yorker.
On Saturday, June 19, two panels composed of artists, academics, public officials and private citizens will address the fundamental issues of creative expression and education in the arts. Confirmed panelists include Robert Adams, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Frank Hodsoll, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts; and Michael Morgan, Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Moderators will be Ellen T. Harris, Associate Provost for the Arts at MIT; and Katy Kline, director of MIT's List Visual Arts Center.
The conference will consider such issues as the distribution of funding between individual artists and cultural organizations, the tension between free expression and religious and patriotic beliefs, the initiative to develop arts curricula for primary and secondary education, and the relative position of the federal government in partnership with corporate and private philanthropic support for the arts.
"With a new administration in Washington and the imminent nomination of a chairman to lead the NEA, MIT believes that the moment warrants a rigorous and high-level examination of the federal government's complex role as a patron of the arts," said Mark Palmgren, director of the Council for the Arts at MIT and organizer of the conference. "By stimulating constructive public discussion, we hope to develop innovative policies and positions which may be submitted to legislators and arts advocacy organizations nation-wide," he said.
"By inviting the participation of public officials, artists, and academics at this level, MIT underscores its commitment to the arts and arts education, and to careful examination of the current debate over federal arts funding," Professor Harris said.
"The Public Patron: Drafting a Mandate for a Federal Arts Agency" is open to the public. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door. For more information and a registration form, call the MIT Office of the Arts at (617) 253-4003.
A version of this article appeared in the May 5, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 31).