President Kennedy was a great supporter of the arts; inscribed on the walls of the River Terrace, just outside the Grand Foyer, you will find quotes from speeches in which he spoke of his vision for America's cultural life.
There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci, the age of Elizabeth also the age of Shakespeare, and the new frontier for which i campaign in public life, can also be a new frontier for American art.
I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.
To further the appreciation of culture among all the people. To increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art — this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days.
This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.
I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And i look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.
I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty.