THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, SENATOR JOHN F.
AND VICE-PRESIDENT RICHARD M. NIXON, IN RESPONSE TO INQUIRIES FROM
EQUITY MAGAZINE, TAKE POSITIONS ON THREE LEGISLATIVE QUESTIONS
OF PARTICULAR CONCERN TO THE THEATRICAL COMMUNITY
1. Legislation sponsored by Senators Javits (New York) and Clark (Pennsylvania) would establish a new federally supported Foundation for the performing arts. This bill stipulates that the proposed Foundation--
shall not produce or present any productions * * * but rather, through its appointed trustees, will foster and encourage professional and civic and nonprofit, private, public, educational, institutional, or governmental groups which are engaged in or directly concerned with the performing arts and productions.The bill requests an initial appropriation of $5 million, and it is intended that an annual appropriation would be augmented by taxfree donations, and that the Foundation would be established as an independent agency in the executive branch of the Federal Government. Do you favor such a measure?
ANSWERS BY SENATOR JOHN F. KENNEDY
It is a pleasure to reply to
your questions * * * for publication in Equity magazine.
(1) I am in full sympathy with the proposal for a federally supported Foundation to provide encouragement and opportunity to nonprofit, private, and civic groups in the performing arts. When so many other nations officially recognize and support the performing arts as a part of their national cultural heritage, it seems to me unfortunate that the United States has been so slow in coming to a similar recognition.
(2) I have been, in the Senate, a consistent and enthusiastic supporter of cultural exchange as a means of exhibiting abroad the quality and character of American culture and earning the good will that can only come from understanding and appreciation of our culture. American artists performing abroad have been one of our finest assets for this purpose and have been of incalculable value to this country's relations with other nations. I hope that the United States can continue and expand its efforts in this valuable program.
(3) There is clearly a serious inequity in the failure of our tax laws to recognize the special problems created for artists and writers by the highly irregular character of their income from year to year. While I believe that the specific remedy for this inequity needs careful consideration, I would favor prompt and adequate revision of the tax laws to deal with it.
I hope that these statements are satisfactory for your use. Let me take this opportunity, also to express my warm admiration and support for Actors' Equity and its achievements.
ANSWERS BY VICE PRESIDENT RICHARD M. NIXON
(1) I wholeheartedly support
the objective of stimulating the advancement of the performing arts and
promoting increased public appreciation of their important role in our
I think that a good first step toward meeting that objective would be a proposal by this administration to create a Federal Advisory Council on the Arts within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
The Council would explore all aspects of the question - including the proper function of the Federal Government in cultural development - and make recommendations as to the best methods by which we can encourage activity in the performance and appreciation of the arts as well as fostering participation in them.
It seems to me that laying this groundwork is necessary before we go on to consider specific proposals such as the establishment of an independent U.S. art foundation to undertake operating programs, as provided in the Javits-Clark bill.
Once we develop the basic guidelines we can then study alternative programs and choose the one that will effectively promote the full development of our performing arts.
(2) America is proud of her performing artists, and I believe that their frequent appearances overseas contribute greatly to an increased understanding of this Nation and the culture it represents.
As you know, the prestige which the President's special international program for cultural presentations has enjoyed in the past 5 years has been of tremendous importance in building and strengthening the image of America abroad.
I would certainly support an expansion of this program to assure that our performing arts are broadly represented in as many nations as possible. For example, I think we might have an American dramatic repertory company, an American ballet troupe, and an American symphony orchestra, all on tour. These groups would travel to virtually every corner of the world.
At present, however, we are not sending abroad as many of our artists as we would like. In the free world, there are more than 250 cities with large populations - more than 200,000 people each - which we should try to reach at least once a year.
My trip to the Soviet Union last year strengthened my belief that we should also increase both our cultural and person-to-person exchange programs with the Iron Curtain countries, as well as with those nations outside the Communist bloc areas.
We certainly cannot lose by continuing or expanding these exchanges with the Soviet Union and other Communist countries. We could stand to gain much. It seems to me that these people may increase their pressures for greater freedom from oppressive controls as they become better acquainted with the aspects of a richer and freer life through direct contacts with Western culture and civilization. The Communists challenge us to compete, and we welcome that challenge. Our answer is that we can match them in artistic excellence, or for that matter, in any field they want to choose.
(3) The merits of this proposal, of course, would need to be weighed against the increased administrative costs and the loss of revenue to the Treasury which it might involve.
The present administration has recognized, in part, the equity of relief for taxpayers who experience sharp variations in income from year to year by support of legislation permitting a 3-year loss "carryback" and a 5-year loss "carryforward."
In deciding whether or not this principle should be extended to permit tax averaging, we must remember that if such relief were given to artists, it should be extended to all taxpayers with the same problem.
This might well put a heavy burden on both the Government and the taxpayer in that the tax for a given year would have to be recalculated again and again.
This aspect, plus the possible revenue losses resulting from tax averaging, would have to be carefully studied before we could make a firm decision about the proposal. Generally, I would say that if the burdens to the taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service are shown to be excessive, I would oppose such a change in our tax laws. If a close study of its effects proves otherwise, and if its adoption would not interfere with more urgently needed tax reforms, then I think it could be favorably considered.