Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed a call for the president to lead a "Millennium Initiative" that would bring citizens, government and business together for promotion of America's arts and humanities.
"As we prepare for a new century, and yes, a new millennium," she said Tuesday, "the arts and humanities are more essential than ever to the endurance of our democratic values of tolerance, pluralism and freedom at a time when so much else is happening to change the way we work and live."
At the president's request, Hillary Clinton served as honorary chairwoman of a committee whose report, "Creative America," was made public at a meeting in the Library of Congress.
She urged using the Internet to give isolated children on farms and in urban areas the chance to "take a virtual tour of our finest museums and libraries."
"The arts and humanities can offer children safe and productive alternatives to crime, violence, gangs and drugs, transporting them beyond the bounds of their difficult circumstances," she said.
Hillary Clinton pointed to the president's bid for more spending on the arts and humanities as he moves toward a balanced budget that--though she did not say so--calls for cuts in many other items.
The report proposed an appropriation by 2000 of $2 per citizen to support the national endowments for the arts and humanities, and for libraries and museums. That would mean about $550 million instead of this year's $385 million.
House Republican leaders have said they want to end all spending this year on the National Endowment for the Arts.
At the news conference, the committee chairman, John Brademas, ex-president of New York University, was asked how he would defend additional spending if he were still a member of Congress.
"If one adds the present appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the museum services," he replied, "that total aggregates just over one one-hundredth of 1% of the budget of the government of the United States."