The Arts as a National Security Asset

Posted by Americans for the Arts, May 25, 2010 1 comment

Brigadier General Nolen Bivens, U.S. Army, Ret.

Back in April, Brigadier General Nolen Bivens, U.S. Army, Ret., testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to voice his support of National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding.  Recently, Gen. Bivens wrote a post entitled The Arts of War...and Peace on the NEA's blog highlighting why he believes the arts are important to the United States government’s ability to deal with the national security challenges it faces.  From his blog post:

Our armed forces are adjusting to an enemy that practices asymmetrical warfare. This threat demands creative and innovative responses: understanding local culture and protection of valuable and sensitive cultural treasures, such as those looted in the Baghdad Museum, can go a long way in helping our forces win the hearts and minds and maintain support among the citizenry; investments in cultural diplomacy can enable the arts community to partner with other U.S. government departments and agencies to prevent or prepare for post-conflict situations, and support stabilization; and support for our veterans in their healing and post-service via creative outlets can help support their path and transition to a civilian life.

Here are just a few ways that I believe that the arts community and government agencies might work together to support these goals: arts leaders can participate in reconstruction and stabilization planning by the State Department, regional combatant commands, and country teams to identify areas in which arts and cultural initiatives can support security cooperation plans, such as the recent South American tour of the Urban Bush Women; arts organizations can partner with service component commands on support service activities, e.g. resource an arts center in a school built by military engineers; and collaborate on initiatives and events that encourage and support increased arts participation by active military and veterans, such as the NEA’s Operation Homecoming or the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, which collects, preserves, and exhibits art inspired by combat and created by veterans.

To read the rest of Gen. Bivens blog post, click here.

1 responses for The Arts as a National Security Asset


May 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm

The Arts and National Security are an amazing intersection-- easy for me to say and experience as I live in an artsy military town. A few cases in point/food for thought-

- the 9/11 commission termed the US vulnerabilities that allowed the attack as a "failure of imagination."

- Not only did Julia Child work for the OSS during WWII, but she entered the culinary arts during her husband's career in Europe with the state department as cultural ambassadors/propagandists.

- the burgeoning genre of military art, such as Battle Dress.

- Warriors, Veterans, Family, and Friends Writing the Military Experience

As with arts in education and in medicine, arts in security is a vital field-- fulcrums for the arts industry as a whole.

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