The Creative Coalition is the group that threw the swankiest inaugural parties for Obama, studded with producers, actors, directors and writers. The Creative Coalition/Obama galas included a lavish inaugural party sponsored by Moet & Chandon, which passed out big fat bottles of pricey wine sporting customized "Obama is the Man" labels. (Quick, someone alert that crazy Rutgers professor who attacked GOP Rep. Paul Ryan over his beverage choices.) They clamored for $50 million in stimulus pork and still want more.
Members of the Creative Coalition were also entangled in the 2009 NEA/White House campaign to recruit 75 artists, musicians, writers and poets as political "counter-narrative" creators during the health care takeover battle. Then-Office of Public Engagement top officials Tina Tchen and Buffy Wicks urged participants to "sustain energy from the election process" and "think through how their networks and organizations can participate in areas such as the arts in education, health care and preventative care, energy and environment, or economic opportunity."
In other words: Not art for art's sake. But art for Obama's sake.
The White House and its "Champions of Change for the Arts" are flirting dangerously with an Orwellian-style Ministry of Arts Agitprop akin to Europe's and China's. America doesn't need ideologically skewed keepers of the culture in government-sanctioned positions espousing what's best for readers', viewers' and listeners' consumption -- and using tax dollars to shape our tastes and politics. The best way for this White House to stimulate free, unfettered conversation about the arts is to butt out of it.