I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our
civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.
If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the
artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never
forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth. In a
free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of
polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be
different elsewhere. But democratic society--in it, the highest duty of
the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to
let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth,
the artist best serves his nation. And the nation which disdains the
mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost's hired man, the fate of
having "nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look
forward to with hope."
I look forward to a great future for America, a future in which our
country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its
wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. I look
forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty, which
will protect the beauty of our natural environment, which will preserve
the great old American houses and squares and parks of our national past,
and which will build handsome and balanced cities for our future.
I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as
we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look
forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of
artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural
opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an
America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its
strength but for its civilization as well."
-John F. Kennedy