Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
As an actor, producer, director, and President of The Creative Coalition, I would like to thank the White House’s Champions of Change program for recognizing the important role that arts play in our society. The Champions of Change who were present at the White House are all living proof that the arts are a crucial part of our education system, our economy, and our cultural heritage.
I don’t believe it is commonly known that entertainment is America’s second largest export, and that millions of Americans earn their livelihoods through the arts and in ancillary occupations. It seems to me that we too often look at art as something extra, a luxury item, something that is disconnected from our daily lives and our economy. But in reality, what is more connected and interwoven in our economy than a film production that provides jobs for thousands of people behind-the-scenes? It’s not just the actors that benefit – it’s the craftsmen, drivers, carpenters, editors, technicians and more who work so hard to bring that film to the screen.
The impact of the arts on my own family has been immeasurable. For generations now, my family has been inundated with artists. We make our livings as artists, and we owe everything to the arts and to our pursuit of artistic expression.
As Americans, we must acknowledge that the arts not only inspire us, reflect back to us our triumphs and mistakes, bring us beauty and joy, challenge our beliefs, and enrich our souls, but that the arts are in our lives every day, whether we make our living as an artist or not. Every American who listens to music, plays guitar in his or her basement, sings in their church choir, or helps with the school play is a part of the arts in America. The work of artists is evidenced in engineering, innovative design, and technology. Arts train the creative mind. We must take steps to ensure the continued vibrancy of arts and entertainment in our country. An investment in the arts and arts education is an investment in our future.
Tim Daly is an actor, director, producer, and President of The Creative Coalition.