Busy with matters of state, government leaders aren’t required to be art lovers. Yet some, in history, were. Napoleon Bonaparte was not only a military leader and empire builder, but he also spent his time seizing paintings and sculptures from those countries he conquered. The thousands of works that fill the Louvre are his spoils of war.

Royal flush

Then there’s Louis XVI who Voltaire wrote that he “gave greater encouragement to the arts than all his fellow kings together.” So, it’s not surprising that the arts magazine Hyperallergic would find out Biden and Harris histories to gauge their interest.

Soul search

The finding: Biden and Harris have a long history of supporting the arts. Even so, it may be enough to know the president-elect’s attitude from what he told Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer, and writer who created the musical “Hamilton“: “The future of who we are lies in the arts… It is the expression of our soul.”

Chipping in

It was not unexpected, then, that senator Biden consistently voted against defunding the National Endowment for the Arts. Also, as vice-president, he co-sponsored legislation to inaugurate the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Happy note

As for Harris, she plays the violin and French horn, not unlike other leaders in the past with musical backgrounds, reports Artnet.

I’m thinking of Bill Clinton on the saxophone; Nixon on the piano along with Harry Truman and Vladimir Putin. Why is their love of music notable? The answer lies in a report by The Guardian: “The arts thrive in Putin’s Russia.”

Set in stone

Accordingly, Harris has sought to help the arts survive. As a member of the San Francisco Jazz Organization, she led the fundraiser for the city’s symphony.

Harris also pays mind to painting and sculpture. She joined the board of trustees at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and as a senator sponsored a bill to display a statue in the Capitol of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black female Congressman.

Mural art

And get this. The Biden-Harris campaign supported painters directly by commissioning them to paint murals that urged people to vote.

The murals stood in mostly Black neighborhoods in all the battleground states - Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Relief in sight

Artnet had the same aim as Hyperallergic, asking what can be expected in the new administration when it comes to cultural interests.” Their finding? “Many in the art world are pleased about the election outcome.” And no wonder. Trump’s 2021 budget proposal included a section called “Stopping Wasteful and Unnecessary Spending.”