As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage artistic and cultural institutions across the country, Philadelphia Orchestra musical director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is pleading with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for a lifeline during what he described as a “tumultuous” time for the industry.
In an open letter posted on social media this week, Nézet-Séguin called on the new administration to prioritize the arts “for the good of the country”.
“Throughout this crisis, cultural institutions large and small in every corner of the country have had to cancel years of planning, shutting down concert halls, opera houses, theaters, museums and artistic spaces, and wait patiently for help, ”said Nézet-Séguin. wrote.
“For us artists and citizens working in the arts, the impact has been catastrophic,” he continued. “We have lost income, jobs and livelihoods. We have lost so many colleagues who make up the diverse fabric of the American artistic voice. We have lost the driving force of our lives: making music, theater, creating art for public living. “
Nézet-Séguin noted that support for the arts declined before the start of the pandemic last March. He cited former President Donald Trump’s call for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in his 2021 budget, as well as the dissolution of the Presidential Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 2017.
“Artists need financial support to continue to create; American artistic institutions need it to survive, ”writes Nézet-Séguin. “While the vaccine is now here and we can finally begin to see the end of the pandemic, the financial implications will last for years with government intervention.”
Nézet-Séguin argued that the arts “can help with healing, self-expression and unite diverse voices,” and foster a bright future for the country.
“Our future leaders will be more compassionate, confident and better members of society, with the arts an integral part of their lives. ” Nézet-Séguin wrote. “The arts are a powerful force in democratization for good, for everyone. “
One step towards achieving greater support for the arts would be the creation of a culture-focused cabinet post, Nézet-Séguin wrote. Other advocates of the arts industry have made similar appeals to the Biden administration.
“To progress, to elevate the arts, you need a voice at the table that is heard,” writes Nézet-Séguin.
Remaining optimistic, Nézet-Séguin said that the arrival of a new administration “could not come at a more opportune time”.
“With these acts of leadership, continue to showcase the great art and artists of this country,” Nézet-Séguin wrote. “Providing public platforms for music and art, with the approval of the president, vice-president and government, has significant value beyond what private institutions provide – the arts should have this vital moral authority with strong federal support. “
You can read Nézet-Séguin’s letter to Biden and Harris below.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has not been immune to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The orchestra was forced to give online performances only without an audience due to the public health crisis.