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Although we hear about the rantings of Charlie Sheen and his Adonis DNA, and the almost daily criminal behavior of Lindsey Lohan, we never seem to hear about celebrities who are doing good things. Like Alec Baldwin, my new hero. Alec Baldwin wields the two edged sword of celebrity to bring focus to the dire situation of the arts in this nation. His philanthropic gestures and vocal support for continued governmental funding of essential arts programs throughout this country have endeared him as a noble spokesperson for the arts in America.
Last month he was in Washington DC at he 24th Annual Arts Advocacy Day sponsored by Americans for the Arts. He and fellow actor Kevin Spacey were scheduled to speak at a special hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. The hearing, however, was cancelled (surprise, surprise) due to time constraints. My guess is that the members of the Subcommittee did not want to be subjected to Spacey and Baldwin’s elequent dialogue regarding the need for arts support. What congressional member could ever hope to oppose the powerhouse influence of two of Hollywood’s finest award winning actors?
Alec Baldwin has also used his own personal finances to support arts programs and charities. In 2009 he donated the revenues from his Hulu commercials to his alma mater New York University. This year he is donating the proceeds from his Capitol One commercials to the Roundabout Theatre Co. in New York City and the New York Philharmonic. Capitol One is partnering with Baldwin to match customer donations up to $50,000.00 to the Americans for the Arts foundation. “I’m hoping this dialogue will bring more attention to the arts coverage…The only reason why I’m publicizing it is for people to please not forget about the arts.” Baldwin hopes to continue building on his partnership with Capitol One to increase revenue for arts programs.
We in the arts need the voices, the stature and the courage of celebrities like Alec Baldwin who will stand up for our recognition. We are indebted to them for their efforts in helping to secure and ensure continued funding for arts projects and programs. Through their use of positive celebrity leverage we have hope that government and private funding sources will listen and act. Thank you, Alec Baldwin.