Michelle Obama hosted a concert this morning at the Pittsburgh Creative & Performing Arts School for its students and the spouses of international leaders deliberating at the G-20 economic summit. She gave an 11-minute address about the arts as a prelude to performances by guests Sara Bareilles, Yo-Yo Ma and Trisha Yearwood. Here are excerpts from her speech, from a transcript issued by the White House:
“We believe strongly that the arts aren’t somehow an ‘extra’ part of our national life, but instead we feel that the arts are at the heart of our national life. It is through our music, our literature, our art, drama and dance that we tell the story of our past and we express our hopes for the future. Our artists challenge our assumptions in ways that many cannot and do not. They expand our understandings, and push us to view our world in new and very unexpected ways…..
“It’s through this constant exchange — this process of taking and giving, this process of borrowing and creating — that we learn from each other and we inspire each other. It is a form of diplomacy in which we can all take part….
“[T]oday … we’re presenting the gifts of these wonderful American artists to our friends from all around the world. And these artists are passing on the gift of their magnificent example to these young people who are here today, studying in this school — showing them that if they dream big enough, and work hard enough, and believe in themselves, that they can do and achieve some uncommon things in their lifetime….
“That is the core of my mission as first lady — to share the gifts that come with life in the White House with as many of our young people as I possibly can find. That’s why I’ve worked to make the White House a showcase of America’s rich cultural life….
Read the entire LA Times article here.