Notable Quotable: Neera Tanden

By Neera Tanden
Neera Tanden, who is a dark-haired woman speaks from behind a podium

Neera Tanden at the Healing, Bridging, Thriving Summit on January 30, 2024. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock for NEA

"The arts are so important because they are often the best way for us to see the humanity of each other. The arts can create a deep sense of empathy with people whose lives feel so different from our own. In that way, the arts can be a centripetal force—binding us together as we mend the fabric of our society through seeing our common humanity.

For example, a novel can transport you to the unimaginable pain of an enslaved woman who fears the loss of her children; or a song translates the anxiety of residents from a formerly industrial town more than a news article ever could.

That understanding of other people’s lives—that emotional connection that art creates to connect us to people who are entirely different from ourselves—is central to democracy. Because essential to democracy is a sense of shared understanding of our fellow citizens." — Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden is Domestic Policy Advisor to President Biden and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. This excerpt is from her remarks at the January 30, 2024 Healing, Bridging, Thriving Summit co-hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts and the White House. Learn more and watch video from the summit on our website.