A Look at Congress’ Leading Art Advocates

The Arts’ Three Most Influential Advocates in Congress

REP. SIDNEY YATES, 80, Illinois Democrat. First elected 1948. District includes parts of the north side of Chicago and North Shore suburbs, including Evanston. Yates’ personal arts preferences include modern sculpture and painting (of which he has an extensive collection), music and dance. Not a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus. Member of the House Appropriations Committee. Chairman of the subcommittee on the department of the Interior and related agencies, which has jurisdiction over budgets for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. Received his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Chicago. Favorite cultural activities in Washington include theater, classical music and dance events. Generally considered the most politically powerful and forceful advocate for arts issues in Congress.

REP. PAT WILLIAMS, 52, Montana Democrat. First elected 1978. District: western Montana, including state capital of Helena and his hometown, Butte. Member of Congressional Arts Caucus since its inception in 1982. One of seven deputy Democratic whips, Williams is a member of the Education and Labor Committee and chairs subcommittee on post-secondary education, which originates legislation to renew the NEA and NEH. Educated at the University of Denver and Western Montana College. A son, Griff, is an artist. Williams’ committee jurisdiction over renewal of the NEA is of crucial importance, because it will handle pivotal arts legislation in the next few months.

SEN. CLAIBORNE PELL, 71, Rhode Island Democrat. First elected 1960. Member of Congressional Arts Caucus since 1988. Helped found Concerned Senators for the Arts. Personal art taste leans to the conservative with a clear preference for representational--as opposed to abstract--art. Not a music or dance fan. Loves film and has a large collection of 19th-Century American art. Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, member of the Labor and Human Resources Committee and subcommittee on education, arts and humanities. Educated at Princeton University and Columbia University. Stepmother, Olive Bigelow Pell, was a portraitist. An original sponsor of legislation that established the NEA and NEH in 1965.


Thirteen Other Senators and Representatives Identified as Key Arts Supporters

REP. THOMAS COLEMAN, 47, Missouri Republican. First elected 1976. District in northwest Missouri includes northern Kansas City. Appreciator of classical music. Member of Congressional Arts Caucus since 1984. Second-ranking Republican on House Education and Labor Committee and ranking minority member of subcommittee that will originate legislation to extend the life of the NEA. Educated at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., New York University and Washington University in St. Louis. In Washington he attends events at the National Gallery and of the National Symphony. Position on NEA reauthorization subcommittee makes Coleman one of the most powerful Republican arts advocates in Congress.

REP. LES AuCOIN, 47, Oregon Democrat. First elected 1974. District includes Portland west of the Willamette River. Main artistic interests are modern American literature and theater, and his district office in Portland regularly showcases the work of Oregon artists. Collects works by Pacific Northwest artists. Member of the Congressional Arts Caucus since 1982. Member of the House Appropriations Committee and the interior subcommittee. Graduated from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. Favorite cultural activity in Washington is attending theater and visiting art galleries. On free-speech grounds, voted against legislation to outlaw destruction of the American flag. Considered an advocate of working artists and artistic freedom.

REP. BILL GREEN, 60, New York Republican. First elected in 1978. District includes central and east Manhattan, the theater district and many of the nation’s premier arts centers, including the Whitney, Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is immediately adjacent to district. Appreciates classical music, especially chamber music. Member of Congressional Arts Caucus since 1979. Member of the House Appropriations Committee and the ranking Republican on its housing and urban development and independent agencies subcommittee. Educated at Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Favorite cultural activity in Washington is attending openings at the National Gallery.


REP. FRED GRANDY, 41, Iowa Republican. First elected in 1986. District in agricultural north-northwest Iowa. After working as a legislative aide and speech writer, pursued an acting career from the mid-'70s to early ‘80s, appearing in two films and several off-Broadway plays, capping his acting career as Gopher in the ABC series “Love Boat.” Plays guitar. Daughter, Marya, is drama student at Yale University. Had been member of Arts Caucus but dropped out. Member of Education and Labor Committee. Educated at Harvard University. Frequent patron of Folgers Shakespeare Theater.

REP. BOB CARR, 46, Michigan Democrat. First elected 1974, defeated in 1980, re-elected 1982. District bordered by Michigan State University on one side, the city of Pontiac on the other. He is an amateur photographer and pianist and attends concerts and photography exhibitions regularly. Member of Congressional Arts Caucus since 1982 and its current chairman. Sits on House Appropriations Committee. Educated at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, University of Wisconsin Law School, Michigan State University. His favorite cultural activity in Washington is to attend rock and jazz concerts.

REP. TED WEISS, 62, New York Democrat. First elected 1976. His lower Manhattan district includes many theaters and dance companies, including Juilliard School of Music at the Lincoln Center and Artists Space gallery, the latter involved in the latest NEA crisis. Arts Caucus member since 1981. Regularly attends concerts, opera and theater. Interests in songwriting, literature and classical music. Serves on several key House committees and subcommittees. Educated at Syracuse University. In Washington, regularly attends movie screenings and art exhibits. Wife, Sonya Hoover, is a painter. Viewed in some quarters as likely next chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, but widely seen as too liberal to facilitate broad political consensus.

REP. RALPH REGULA, 65, Ohio Republican. First elected 1972. District in rural northeast Ohio, Canton its hub. Not a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus. Commuting each weekend between Washington and his Ohio cattle farm, he is a nature lover, and his art tastes include: landscape art, the Broadway musicals “The Music Man” and “My Fair Lady,” classical and country music; doesn’t like jazz or rock ‘n’ roll. Features intricate Amish quilts on wall of his Washington office. The ranking member of the Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee of interior. Educated at Mt. Union College near Canton, Ohio, and now-defunct McKinley School of Law in Canton. In Washington, his favorite institution is Ford’s Theater. In Ohio, attends Cleveland Ballet with family.

SEN. HOWARD METZENBAUM, 71, Ohio Democrat. First elected 1976. Enjoys building what is already an extensive personal art collection, emphasis on modern art including works by Red Grooms, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg. Also collects antiques. Not in the Congressional Arts Caucus, but with Sen. Caiborne Pell founded Concerned Senators for the Arts in 1982. Member of Judiciary Committee, Labor and Human Resources Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Select Committee on Intelligence. Chairman of three subcommittees: antitrust, labor and energy regulation. Educated at Ohio State. Revels in Washington’s arts scene, attending openings of arts exhibitions, plays, concerts and Kennedy Center attractions.

SEN. JAMES JEFFORDS, 55, Vermont Republican. First elected to Senate in 1988; previously served in the House beginning in 1974. Co-founder of the Congressional Arts Caucus in 1981 and now its vice chairman. Wide range of creative interests, preferring performing arts, especially classical music. Member of Labor and Human Resources Committee, subcommittee on education, arts and humanities, with jurisdiction over NEA; also ranking minority member of Labor Committee, subcommittee on disabilities. Educated at Yale University, Harvard Law School. He and wife, Elizabeth Daly, are opera buffs. Regular attendant at Vermont arts festivals.

REP. MARY ROSE OAKAR, 49, Ohio Democrat. First elected 1976. District includes parts of downtown and suburban Cleveland, including its theater district and the planned Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll. In the early ‘70s was a drama professor at a community college and helped start a civic arts center for underprivileged children. Appreciates the theater and has a love for jazz; in 1987 backed an effort to purchase Duke Ellington memorabilia for the Smithsonian Institution. Former member of Congressional Arts Caucus. Member of the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, chairwoman of subcommittee on economic stabilization. Educated at Ursuline College and John Carroll University, both in Cleveland. Attends plays at Kennedy Center.

REP. NORM DICKS, 48, Washington state Democrat. First elected 1976. District encompasses lower Puget Sound, home to a growing military-industrial complex: Navy in the port of Bremerton, Army and Air Force facilities in and around Tacoma. Member of Congressional Arts Caucus since 1981. His personal art tastes gravitate to modern art, classical music and ‘50s rock. Supporter of grants to Tacoma Art Museum and Seattle Art Museum, and is promoting the visitation of Soviet athletes and artists to the Goodwill Games, to be held in Seattle in July, 1990. Educated at the University of Washington. Member of Appropriations Committee and its interior appropriations subcommittee. Frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Yates as chairman of the NEA subcommittee.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY, 57, Massachusetts Democrat. First elected 1962. Member of Concerned Senators for the Arts since 1986, but not in the Congressional Arts Caucus. Board of Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Boston Symphony. Paints landscapes as a hobby. One serigraph sold for educational charity for the arts. Authored pending Visual Arts Act, which would prohibit the unauthorized alteration of paintings and sculpture, but not of film. Chairman of Labor and Human Resources Committee and its subcommittee on health, which oversees arts legislation; Judiciary Committee and its subcommittees on the Constitution and on patents, copyrights and trademarks. Educated at Harvard University, International Law School in the Netherlands, University of Virginia Law School. Attends dance and theater, and especially enjoyed “Les Miserables.” Visits new exhibits at Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and National Gallery of Art in Washington.

SEN. DANIEL MOYNIHAN, 62, New York Democrat. First elected 1976. Member of Congressional Arts Caucus since 1986. Former board of trustees’ chairman of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; current regent of Smithsonian Institution. Enjoys classical music and jazz, and is a fan of artist Alexander Calder and of Post-Modern work. Member of the committees of Finance, Environment and Public Works, Rules, and Foreign Relations. Educated at Tufts University. Fulbright scholarship to London School of Economics. Wife, Elizabeth, is architectural historian and published author on Asian design. Daughter Maura is a budding TV and film actress. Son Tim, an artist, produces caricatures and papier-mache sculpture. In Washington, he attends most productions and openings at Folger Shakespeare Theater and National Gallery of Art.