Mister President: The Kennedy Center for What?

The Kennedy Center is a physical, tangible as well as an organic living reminder of the Kennedy years and a legacy of a President who brought idealism to a generation of Americans. It is known for The Kennedy Center Honors (an American institution and celebration) and is our equivalent of the National Theatre of America.

The Kennedy Center also sets the standards by which Theatre For Young Audiences programs are mounted, as well as teacher workshops to provide teachers with skills. It has a network of about 100 performing arts centers in the United States which it serves and serves well.

What travesty is now about to befall America? The Kennedy Center under the scalpel?

We know the country has mighty financial woes. We also know there are many reasons and many point fingers but lives are lost, limbs are lost and billions are spent weekly as we continue to "cut back" across the board on spending and acrimonious politicking and grandstanding take center stage. (Good mean-spirited theatre for The Kennedy Center!)

Politics are played and trade-offs are made. The ramifications, however, are very long-term and may be irrevocable if you further reduce the quality of education and lose a generation of potential movers and shakers.

Great corporate executives are not those who work hard to make their quarterly or annual figures look good to keep the shareholders happy. Cutting expenses or R&D without planning for the future or without a vision is quick fix business and is always doomed to failure.

The great corporations in America were built by rough, tough entrepreneurs who took risks and invested time, energy and money for the pay-off. You gotta know the implications of foolish cuts... they have more risk than bad investments.

Mister President: 40 million dollars for arts education is now threatened in the Federal Budget fight. Specifically, The Kennedy Center's educational programs -- which are the heart of everything that goes on in the schools outside of reading, writing, arithmetic and sports and is under siege by being undermined... although our states are cutting teachers and school budgets in general.

Shockingly, arts education and grants for the disabled and training teachers for the arts are on an agenda for not saving. The Kennedy Center's affiliate -- VSA (for those of us that are old enough to remember the Kennedy family's very special arts program to help learning for the disabled... a Kennedy family legacy) will not be protected from the cuts and has been singled out for radical surgery.

The President simultaneously prepares to award Quincy Jones a national medal of arts the same week this cut proposal is announced!

There's a disconnect here, Sir!

How can The Kennedy Center continue to help if they don't have the money for their educational programs; if our government specifically targets grants for the disabled and the training of arts teachers to be on the chopping block? Who are these well-meaning people elected in each one of these states that have their own special needs children and just plain children? How could they be Congressmen and Senators and be accountable to their constituents without balancing all of the elements of our society and protect our most treasured resource -- which is not the oil in the ground but our future generations. How well our kids are educated and prepared to show compassion, imagination, creativity, inventiveness and a sense of community is what will distinguish America in the future as it used to be distinguished in the past... not just as "test" takers but builders... rebuilding America.

You can't live in America and not know that times are bad. You can't pick up a newspaper or watch a news/television show or webcast and not know that things are tough.

The amount of money proposed for education cuts is enough to destroy the quality of a country that already has a population which does not know who sits on the Supreme Court or who the past Presidents were and the only time they heard about the "New Deal" was when they saw the musical ANNIE!

What military aircraft can you purchase for 40 million dollars? But maybe you could give up just one helicopter or maybe a couple of rocket launchers! Or maybe bring our troops out of harm's way and back on our land and invest in their rehab and retraining.

"Enough is enough".

The heart and soul of America is its people and the spirit of its people. We are dispirited -- and Sir, with due respect, unraveling the Kennedy legacy turns me from dispirited to dismayed to disgusted.

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