State Sen. Richard Cohen
By Graydon Royce
State Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, has been appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Cohen, who plays a key role in the Minnesota legislature on arts issues, was sworn in Tuesday (today) by Vice President Joe Biden at the White House. The committee is scheduled to meet with Michelle Obama, the honorary chair, on Wednesday.
The committee works with three primary agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Cohen has served on boards of major arts organizations in the Twin Cities and advocated for greater state funding. He spearheaded the initiative — passed last fall — to include arts funding in the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. He’s currently chair of the Senate Finance Committee and earlier this year, Americans for the Arts presented him with the State Leadership Arts Award.
Cohen has interesting company on the president’s committee, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma; actors Edward Norton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker and Alfre Woodard; George Wolfe, director and former artistic director at the Public Theatre in New York, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Cohen said by phone that it’s very flattering to be appointed to the committee.
“It’s like being a freshman legislator,” he said. “I’ll have a clearer idea after tomorrow about what we’re going to do.”
In addition to the meeting with Michelle Obama, Cohen will attend a classical music concert in the East Room of the White House.
“I wondered if Yo-Yo Ma would play, but then I saw that he’s a member of the committee,” he said.