First Lady Celebrates MassArt

BOSTON--Hillary Rodham Clinton took a whirlwind tour of Boston Saturday, ending with a speech at a fundraiser celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Massachusetts College of Art (MassArt).

Clinton, addressing a friendly crowd of about 600 MassArt patrons at a $250-a-plate fundraiser, emphasized her belief in the importance of art in education and the role that public institutions like MassArt have in driving those goals.

"We have to stop and ask ourselves: Do we really understand the significance that art and culture play?" Clinton said.

"I'm looking forward to the day when there are no longer any acrimonious debates about whether, in the United States of America, the arts deserve public support," she added.

Clinton drew a warm response from her audience as she shared her trademark personal-encounter stories, focusing on students she had met who had been positively impacted by the arts. She said she believes firmly in the role the arts play as an alternative to guns, drugs and violence.


"Arts can light, if only given a chance," she said.

Clinton praised the MassArt benefactors for their contribution to what she called "a unique public institution." Because private funds may not be sufficient, Clinton said, public investment remains crucial to the future of the arts in the nation.

The $700,000 raised at the fundraiser will go toward the "transformation of the college's North Hall into a dynamic, multi-function facility," according to printed remarks from MassArt President Kay Sloan.

Calling former presidents Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt '04 and John F. Kennedy '40 defenders of the arts, Clinton said the President's Millennium Council is doing important work to continue this tradition.

"It is one of my hopes that we will have a renaissance of the arts, particularly in arts education," Clinton said.

Earlier in the day Clinton visited two historic Boston sites as part of her ongoing "Save America's Treasures" campaign.

She mentioned both of the visits in her MassArt Speech.

The first was to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House in Cambridge at 105 Brattle St. The house was once headquarters for General George Washington and later home to Longfellow, a renowned poet, scholar and educator.

"I felt overwhelmed," Clinton told the Associated Press while touring with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 (D-Mass.) and Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. "We have a lot of work to do to make sure this house can convey what happened here," she said.

Her second visit was to the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill, the oldest-standing African-American church in the U.S.