U.S. Department of Art & Technology

Press Secretary

For Immediate Release: November 6, 2001


I take great joy in making this announcement. It's going to be one of the most important initiatives that my administration not only discusses, but implements.

This is a collection of some of the finest America has got to offer -- artists who create with their hearts, and in turn, have changed the communities in which they live for the better. This is a great example of the strength and diversity and compassion of our country.

This is a diverse group, but who share things in common. They provide more than aesthetic appeal to the people of our country. They touch and change hearts. And for this, America is deeply appreciative, particularly in these times of crisis.

Everyone in this room knows firsthand that there are still deep needs in society that are confronted by America's artists who have brought technology into their work. Problems like cyber-addiction and abandonment, pornographic violence, mental illness, loss of identity through the mediation of reality, and now, the threat of terrorist activity across the heartland. We are called by conscience to respond.

As I said in my inaugural address, compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government. It is more than the calling of politicians; it is the calling of artists. It is artists who turn mean streets into good neighborhoods. It is artists who turn cold cities into real communities.

It is one of the great goals of my administration to invigorate the spirit of involvement and cultural engagement. We will encourage artist-based community programs without changing their mission. We will help all in their work to change hearts while keeping a commitment to freedom of expression.

I approach this goal with some basic principles: Government has important responsibilities to the social condition and the spiritual growth of the individual. Yet when we see social needs in America, my administration will look first to artist-based programs, which have proven their power to transform lives. When artists provide insight into the cultural impact of emerging new technologies, we will support them.

As long as there are cultural needs, artist-based organizations should be able to compete for funding on an equal basis, and in a manner that does not cause them to sacrifice their mission. And we will make sure that help goes to large organizations and to small ones as well. We value large organizations with generations of experience. We also value community artists, who have only the scars of being on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Today I am turning these principles into a legislative agenda. I am sending to Congress a series of ideas and proposals. Today, in time of war, I want to raise the priority and profile of these issues within my own administration. I want to ensure that artists and artist-based organizations will always have a place at the table in our deliberations.

In a few moments, I will sign an executive order. This order will create a new government agency, the United States Department of Art and Technology. The Secretary of this office will report directly to me and be charged with important responsibilities. He will oversee our initiatives on this issue. He will make sure our government, where it works with the arts, is fair and supportive. And he will highlight artists who have engaged technology in their work and are confronting issues critical to our understanding of new technologies and their cultural implications as national models so others can learn from them. For as British artist Wyndham Lewis articulated so well: "The artist is always engaged in writing a detailed history of the future because he is the only person aware of the nature of the present."

And now it is my honor to sign the executive order. (Applause.)


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