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I’m still tracking the Obama administration’s pending appointment of an art czar. Robin Pogrebin wrote an excellent overview in the New York Times two days ago that answered many of the questions I have been asking.

Here’s the latest on Obama’s old buddy from Chicago who is currently coordinating arts issues for the White House:

The staff member charged with the arts portfolio, Kareem Dale, is relatively young (in his 30s) and potentially overextended (he is already special assistant to the president for disability policy) with little arts experience. And his position has yet to be defined. Mr. Dale is expected to serve temporarily and to be replaced by someone with full-time responsibility for the arts, said a White House official, who asked to remain anonymous because personnel issues had yet to be resolved.

And these final paragraphs end the article on an upbeat:

Teresa Eyring, the executive director of the Theater Communications Group, which represents the country’s nonprofit theaters, said: “Local and regional elected officials and community leaders are seeing and talking about the connection between the arts and the overall health of their communities. The same sensibility hasn’t quite landed at the national level.”

“In President Obama we have a leader who is making the connection,” she added, “who seems to understand both the spiritual and economic necessity of the arts to our nation’s strength.”

Mr. Ivey [former head of the Endowment], who led the transition team devoted to the arts and recently met with Mr. Dale, said he expected the White House position to involve coordinating the work of the Endowment, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“It’s great to have a direct West Wing connection,” Mr. Ivey said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had an administration that thought about the vibrancy of our cultural life as a central public policy,” he added, “as a marker of quality of life in a democracy.”

That’s a powerful statement: “Vibrancy of our cultural life as a central public policy, as a marker of quality of life in a democracy.” Sounds so simple and commonsensical to me, but obviously it is not standard fare in Washington World.

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