Art Works Blog

Postcard from Blue Star Museums launch

San Diego, California

Here I am with the Bunnell siblings, who are all string players with the San Diego Youth Symphony, and were "on duty" throughout the launch event. Their late father, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, was a veteran of Desert Storm, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom. Standing to my right is Jeff Edmons, the San Diego Youth Symphony's artistic director, and at the far right is Dalouge Smith, the symphony's president and CEO. Photo by Allen Kalman

By Rocco Landesman

Yesterday I was in San Diego for the launch of the Blue Star Museums program, a partnership we?re doing with Blue Star Families and more than 600 museums across the U.S. to give museum admission free to active duty military families over the summer. It?s a perfect way for the museums and for us to say thanks to the servicemen and women. It was just a great day---a great day for the museums, a great day for the NEA. One of the things the NEA is about is promoting arts access and engagement, and this is exactly what this program does. One thing we know at the NEA is that the best indicator of arts engagement is having been exposed to it when you?re a child, and this is a very family-oriented program that is we hope going to get wide acceptance and really increase arts participation in the future.

The president has sent out a directive to all of the federal agencies to find ways that we can help military families and engage with them, and I?m very proud that we?re one of the early responders. One of the neat things is that this is one of those things that military families can do as a family. It?s hard to find things that are affordable and accessible that they can do, and this is one of them. This is obviously an initiative that---in terms of engaging military families---is very close to the First Lady, is one of her priorities as well as the president?s and Dr. Biden?s, the Vice President?s wife as well.

I made the announcement with Kathy Roth-Duquet who?s the chair of Blue Star Families. Kathy spoke about her husband who?s been in Afghanistan since September, and is not going to be back until next September. They live in South Carolina, and obviously it?s not easy to live that way, with a spouse that?s deployed overseas.  She was there today with her two little kids, and it was very moving to see who this program is for in a very personal way.

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