Yannick Nézet-Séguin Asks Joe Biden and Kamala Harris To Appoint Secretary for Arts

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: Hans van der Woerd)

Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra, has sent an open letter to incoming U.S. President Joe Biden, and incoming Vice-President Kamala Harris.

In his letter, the famed Canadian maestro asked the new administration to take immediate action in order to save the embattled US cultural sector.

“Artists need financial support to continue to create; the arts institutions of America need it to survive,” wrote Nézet-Séguin. “While the vaccine is now here, and we can finally start to see the end of the pandemic, the financial implications will last for years without meaningful government intervention.”

“We have lost so many colleagues that make up the diverse fabric of the American artistic voice. We have lost the driving force in our lives: making music, theater, creating art for live audiences,” added Nézet-Séguin. “Mr. President, it’s clear you understand the value of the arts. As you said, ‘The future, who we are, lies in the arts. It’s the expression of our soul.’ And Madam Vice President, your statement that ‘the arts give people an outlet to view the world differently’ could not be more accurate. For these reasons, I urge your administration to prioritize the arts for the benefit of this country, for all Americans.

“Finally, I ask that you consider appointing a cabinet level champion dedicated to arts and culture. In order to progress, to elevate the arts, we need a voice at the table that will be heard,” concluded the Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera.

The letter was posted on Jan. 19 on the Philadelphia Orchestra Facebook page, and will be sent directly to President Biden and Vice-President Harris, an orchestra spokesperson said.

Here is the full text of the letter: