In this time of financial trouble and international turmoil, the arts and the humanities provide more than "enhancement," more than "benefit." They provide insight; they provide incentive; they inspire. They give us answers.
The museum thrives, I think, because of that long embedded public mission. When I visited it recently, I was struck all over again by the immediacy and urgency of providing "benefit to all the people." How, I wondered, is the mission met, today?
When I approached two of my male dancers about shooting what I envisioned as a tender but very physical love scene, I expected resistance and came prepared with a speech about my personal commitment to portraying fully formed gay characters. Alas, the speech was unnecessary.
If there is one drawback to Annenberg's film it's that viewers may be torn between trying to read the rapidly changing subtitles while listening to people speaking conversational Yiddish onscreen for the first time in decades.