Senator Edward M. Kennedy was a titan for the arts, and I know the national arts community joins me in mourning his passing.
Ever since The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was opened as a living memorial to the late president, Senator Kennedy has carried forth the arts and humanities legacy that his brother began. He powerfully advocated the need to nurture creativity and to broaden access to artistic excellence in the U.S. Senate, and his leadership extended to co-founding and co-chairing the Senate Arts Caucus.
Throughout his work, he carried strong messages of freedom of expression, tolerance, and creative rights. He spoke staunchly of the central role of the federal government in supporting American cultural life, inspiring bipartisan cooperation among his colleagues. Senator Kennedy was the recipient of our own 1999 Congressional Arts Leadership Award, and in 2004, introduced his friend Doris Kearns Goodwin as our Nancy Hanks Lecturer on Arts and Public Policy at The Kennedy Center.
Each year for Arts Advocacy Day, he welcomed a small group of our advocates to his hideaway office on Capitol Hill and hosted a lunch that brought us together with Congressional leaders. One year he even met up with us on the steps of Capitol Hill, enthusiastically joining in as Peter Yarrow led a rousing sing-a-long on behalf of the arts.
I’ve had the personal pleasure of working with Senator Kennedy on federal arts issues on a number of occasions, and as a native of Massachusetts and longtime admirer, let me say how deeply his warmth, humor, empathy, and fierce passion will be missed by me, as well as the board and staff of Americans for the Arts. We are all diminished by his loss.