The Creative Coalition Inaugural Ball, held on Jan. 21 and featured a performance by The Goo Goo Dolls, hosted many celebrities who were in town for President Obama's second inauguration. The Creative Coalition (TCC) uses celebrities to advocate on behalf of the arts and arts funding. And those who attended the ball were more than willing to speak out on the issues.
Richard Schiff, who has frequently attended D.C. events on behalf of TCC, extolled the virtues of fully funding arts programs and the return on investment that comes from such action. He also discussed how when budgets get cut, routinely arts programs are the first on the chopping block and that this is the wrong policy. Schiff said the ancillary benefits of arts programs, such as higher grades for students at all levels and increased understanding of math and science, are often overlooked and that everyone has a responsibility to ensure arts are protected.
Richard Kind talked about how arts programs foster a feeling of acceptance. He was careful to point out that arts would not have stopped anything, but Kind said how all the recent shootings were done by outcasts, and how the feelings of loneliness and exclusion can be erased by inclusion in arts.
Taraji P. Henson, a relative of Matthew Henson (who discovered the North Pole), was in her old territory for the ball. She is a graduate of Howard University and comes into town frequently when her schedule allows. That tends to be around the holidays when Howard is on break so she goes to speak at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a local high school which specializes in arts education. Henson said when she talks with students she lets them know how hard it will be to succeed in the arts world and how they will be rejected over and over again before achieving some semblance of success. Henson said it is a bit ironic she goes back to Duke Ellington to discuss success because she applied to the school and was rejected.