The Soccer Mom of 2004 has been updated this election cycle into her colder more pugilistic sister, Sarah the Hockey Mom. But alas for me, the head of a small arts council in New York's Hudson River Valley, I am still longing to see -- or even hear about -- my political avatar, the Art Mom. Let's call her Amy the Art Mom.
Amy the Art Mom is a fiercely dedicated mother of three who spends her weeknights and most of her weekends driving her kids from play rehearsals, to pottery classes, to the media-lab and then to piano recitals. In between work, making dinner, and her children's extracurricular activities, Amy attends school board meetings to ensure that her children have art and music classes and that the schools have adequate teachers and facilities for these subjects.
Amy the Art Mom puts up with the skyrocketing gas prices, the stench of sweaty toe-shoes and turpentine, the mind-numbing hours spent at school board meetings and all-day dance recitals. She scrimps a bit on her own clothes so that she can rent a musical instrument for her kid to play in the school band. She sacrifices some of her vacation time so that she can chaperon her kids and their friends to a museum or a Broadway play or a film-festival.
Amy the Art Mom puts up with all this because she wants her children to succeed in life. She knows that 45% of the world's salaries are paid to people in the creative industries. She knows that more and more admissions officers at colleges and human resource professionals seek out applicants who have arts experience in their background. Amy the Art Mom knows that creativity and innovation give America the competitive edge in the global economy and that China and India are working assiduously to catch up. And Amy knows that the arts have a humanizing effect on her children -- when participating in the arts, she sees how her teenager is more engaged in school and how her younger kids are more curious about the world and all the people living in it.
Amy the Art Mom votes too. She is appalled that of the last eight executive budgets handed to Congress, zero included funding for Arts In Education programs. She is saddened that New York State funding for the arts is 16% below 1990 levels. Amy looks ahead and is furious that pending cuts in state and local funding may cause tuition increases at the local art center. She is frustrated at what could be a very limited menu of locally available cultural experiences for her family.
Amy the Art Mom is both a Democrat and a Republican, and she is longing to hear pro-arts rhetoric from her elected officials on either side. She is looking for a candidate who understands that there has never been a great civilization that didn't support and cultivate the arts whole-heartedly.
Amy the Art Mom does her due diligence and she looks up the voting records of those politicians seeking her vote and financial support. She goes to Americans for the Arts website and reads the Congressional Arts Report Card for the 110th Congress and she even checks to see if any of the challengers have answered a companion survey. She compares the presidential candidate's positions on issues affecting the arts as well. Based on this information, Amy will vote for the candidate that best addresses her concerns and those of her family.
Alas, Amy the Art Mom has not materialized into real life yet in the manner of Joe the Plumber, but she is out there. So for the moment, I will take Lady Liberty as her stand-in. Amy the Art Mom, like the Statue of Liberty -- the colossus of New York Harbor -- is a steadfast beacon of American values: tolerance, beauty, innovation, and possibility. We all need to hear from the Art Moms (and Dads), real world or otherwise. They are deeply connected with America's future and we should walk in solidarity with them.