"I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization," President Kennedy once remarked, "than full recognition of the place of the artist."
Fifty years later, the United States both recognizes and systematizes "the place of the artist" -- think, for example, of the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
But does it do enough? Not according to Murray Moss.
During a discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the industrial designer engaged in some designing of the political variety. He argued that the United States should further systematize its support of art and culture -- through, specifically, adding a Secretary of Culture to the presidential Cabinet.
The position as Moss described it wouldn't simply carve a place for the recognition of art (and its related field, design) within the executive branch; and it wouldn't simply give active representation to the interests of artists and designers. A cabinet position as Moss sees it would also, more broadly, provide a market-transcendent (but perhaps also market-friendly) mechanism for supporting artistic ingenuity.
Take Italy. After World War II, Moss said, the economically devastated country supported its industrial and other designers financially -- and the nation in turn was able to export those designers' products, thereby bolstering its economy. Today, Moss noted, several European countries give grants and provide other types of support to their artists -- and to, more generally, "people with ideas but without the means." And several other countries currently have ministries of culture, Moss noted. (There are actually about 50 of those countries. Among them: Albania, Brazil, Britain, Cambodia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Haiti, Italy, and Spain.)