Friday, August 28, 2009

Health Care Minute

Did you know that around 80 million Americans are already participating in government run health care? That is the approximate total of people on Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Plans, and Government employee plans. And most of them are satisfied with their care.

That means that there are more Americans on Socialized Medicine than there are people living in Canada. The only problem is that within that number every Canadian is covered and we are 47 million short of covering every American.

Is there something wrong with Canada or with us?

Did you know that if you have private health insurance 20% of your premiums are going to hire employees whose primary job is to find reasons to delay or deny paying claims?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lion of the Senate and the Lab

I woke today to hear the news of the passing of Teddy Kennedy. He was an icon on a world stage that is larger but no more important than the stage closer to home. A dear friend and colleague of mine for many years-- Dick Kieft-- is gravely ill and fighting a similar battle. So for Teddy and Dick

On the Morning’s Minions and Mourning

Oh son, brother, colleague, friend
There is no message I can send.
Into the air or inner heart
That will relieve the smart
Of pain. When the journey ends,
It is only the ether that bends
Dispersing fine and gone
Left a stone that seems too cold.

With humble apologies to Gerard Manley Hopkins whose far more skilled words in “Windhover” tumbled about in my mind as well.

and more love even within our conflicts please.


Monday, August 24, 2009

64 Arts Opens With a Bang

Over 200 people attended the opening of the Buchanan Center's first professional juried art competition called 64 Arts and one of the first works you saw upon entering the gallery was this fanciful sculpture of a tank. It didn't win a prize, but it was one of the most colorful entries.

Art works were submitted by 139 artists from 28 states . The judge, Mr. Preston Jackson, a professor of sculpture at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and owner of the Raven Gallery in Peoria, selected the pieces that were included in the show from slides or digital prints. He traveled to Monmouth to see the actual works and make his final prize awards.

Just below Jackson announces his mixed media award to Mr. Harlow Blum.

The drawing award went to Mr. George Olson and Ralph Whiteman, a Buchanan board member, is shown examining it closely below.

The ceramics prize was captured by this striking arrangement of eleven delicate jars or bowls.

Guests and the judge also enjoyed an eye appealing buffet and liquid refreshments.

All of the works will be on display at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth , IL through September 19th. For more details check

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The American Plan for Health Care

President Obama outlined for the country what George Lakoff has labeled the truely American Plan for Health Care in his NYT op ed today. No plan this complex can be perfect, but this plan will begin to fix some of the obvious flaws in the current system. One could also wish that this plan could be reduced to sound bites, but the problem is also multi dimensioned and the citizen who defines his opinion on the bill solely in terms of a single potential provision is closing off considerable potential good in many other areas. Legislation that produces a maximum amount of improvement for the maximal number of citizens should be supported for the public good. Providing a better way for 47 million uninsured, providing portability from job to job if you have insurance, providing protection against insurance rejection because of pre-existing conditions, and insisting that all insurance plans cover preventive care are significant positive improvements. When the final bill is up for vote, I hope that legislators will balance what can be achieved now and what still remains to be achieved tomorrow. That means a vote that will achieve some of the above improvements within some fiscal balance.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Theatre Arts Advocacy for August and Beyond

Will these young people still be filing into theatres across the country next year? Will the proven benefits of fine arts exposure and fine arts participation for our children be constricted once again? The future does seem gloomy.

Wrestling with reduced budgets is my advocacy issue of the month. Stories of arts woes seem to appear in the papers and on the web sites I monitor with increasing frequency. The Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth (on whose board I sit) joined the chorus last week as it contemplated the impact of a 46% decrease in Illinois Arts Council funding. Other agencies in your home communities are no doubt dealing with similar crises. And the Illinois Theatre Association (on whose board I also sit) is an Arts Council recipient and will be looking at funding cuts too. So, if you live in Illinois, I ask you again to communicate with your legislators and our governor. For background look at the Illinois Arts Alliance’s summary that deals with the impact of FY09 arts cuts. It gives you all the ammunition you need to compose a letter or e-mail.

If you live outside of Illinois I encourage you to support the arts by writing to your legislators and by calling your national representaitves. State arts councils receive support from the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and budget support on that level is also desirable.

In spite of difficulties the arts do continue to function. First Lady Michelle Obama has been traveling the country promoting arts education early and often. See the full article here:

From the Illinois Humanities Council comes the affirmation that Studs Terkel lives on. "The Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award is a biennial honor bestowed on individuals who carry the torch of the humanities. These humanities heroes are nominated by Illinois mayors and Nomination forms are due September 15, 2009. If you have someone in mind who has made a major contribution to the arts or the theatre in your community, get more information at The application form is available at "

Americans for the Arts has reminded me that October is National Arts and Humanities Month.
"Be one of the 10,000 communities and millions of people who celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month every October. Start your planning today by visiting the NAHM website, where you can find planning and advocacy toolkits, as well as free downloads of the NAHM logo and web stickers that can easily be placed on websites, blogs, and social network user profiles. Follow us on Twitter at or friend us on Facebook. The NAHM national arts events map is launching in August and we want to include your October calendars, program information, and volunteer opportunities. For more information, contact Americans for the Arts at"

As noted by Americans for the Arts and supported by outside research, we should continue to remember that participants in arts programs are more likely to have higher test scores than non-participants. Studies continue to show that arts programs help keep students from dropping out of school. Working in the arts encourages the development of creativity, problem solving, and teamwork among students. Young people in arts programs become more self confident and tolerant. If you would like a checklist titled: “Ten ways for parents to help promote the arts for their children.” Check out:

Monday, August 03, 2009

OFTA Tackles Aesthetics on August 12th


On Wed. August 12th at 10:00 am in the gallery at the Buchanan Center, OFTA will join Vickie Young-Briscoe in exploring the world of aesthetics.

Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of artistic experience. i.e. it asks questions like “What is beauty?” or “What kinds of principles define how or why we appreciate art?”

Vickie Young-Briscoe will address these questions by talking about the principles put forward by Francis Slattery in a book titled Hazard, Form, and Value. You might not have time to read the book, but as a bit of homework may I suggest looking at an article in today’s New York Times At Louvre, Many Stop to Snap but Few Stay to Focus. Just click on the title or copy the following URL and paste it into your internet browser.

The article focuses your attention on how folks tend to view art today (if they do at all) and leads you to think about what you are looking for when you look at art.

This all takes place at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth IL from 10 to 11 am on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009. OFTA stands for Old Friends Talk Arts and it has been organizing arts programming for over six years. Admission to our programs is always free and refreshments are provided.