"Artists feed an important part of our expressive life, the world of ideas, sounds, and images that greet us every day. These individuals dedicate themselves to employing their talents, bringing insight and invention to life. Artistic vision makes a special contribution to the quality of our society. If citizens have a right to a broad engagement with artists across the spectrum of public life, what elements must be in place for artists to flourish in American society? I believe three things must be present. First, conditions must be conducive to originality; artists need to be able to find a way to enter and function in our complex arts system. Second, they need respect for their ideas and their approach to problem solving, and respect in the form of sufficient compensation to maintain a creative life. Third, artists, must be free to draw on—to synthesize—the work of contemporaries as well as creativity from the past. Respect is critical in securing the benefits of a vibrant arts community. If society sees artists as irresponsible eccentrics, if the arts system is shaped by big companies that value only the big-hit superstar, and if a writer, composer, filmmaker, or even classroom art teacher must pony up a stiff fee every time he or she needs to reference the work of others, then we are a long distance from fulfilling the right of every citizen to the imagination and understanding of the most talented among us."
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