US President Joe Biden announced members of a resurrected arts advisory board that disintegrated under the Trump administration, filling it with 24 academics and entertainers including Lady Gaga, George Clooney, Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Garner, Anna Deavere Smith and Jon Batiste.
Gaga (the international pop star whose given name is Stefani Germanotta) and producer Bruce Cohen (‘American Beauty’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’) will co-chair the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which is tasked with advising the president and working to support arts and cultural programs around the country. The members, who also include literary scholar Pauline Yu, were chosen for their “serious commitment to the arts and humanities,” the White House said in a statement.
Launched in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan, the board connects well-known artists and academics with leaders of government agencies to advise on policies and programs that support arts and culture. In past iterations, the group has allowed famous musicians and dancers to work with students at low-performing schools through the Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts program, and it helped organise the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.
Several members of the group quit after Donald Trump’s election in 2016, and the remainder — including actor John Lloyd Young and musician Paula Boggs — resigned the following summer to protest Trump’s reluctance to condemn the organisers of a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. “We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisers have, without speaking out against your words and actions,” the resigning members wrote.
Biden issued an executive order to restore the committee last September, in which he touted the arts as “the soul of America, reflecting our multicultural and democratic experience.” Along with declaring October as National Arts and Humanities month, bringing the group back is one of several actions the administration has taken to reverse the atrophy of arts programs under Trump, including the former president’s effort to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Lady Gaga fans, called Little Monsters, took to social media to congratulate her on her appointment, noting her philanthropy. They used the hashtag “Gaga for President.”