On July 26, Tony Award-winning film actor and Broadway entertainer Ben Vereen advocated for arts education in schools by speaking on behalf of Americans for the Arts, the principal nonprofit organization for developing arts education in U.S., during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. The announcement was made a day before the award-winning artist performed “What The World Needs Now” alongside an ensemble of Broadway talent that included Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Adrienne Warren and Montego Glover, among others.
“The politicians need it in order to move society or civilization into a forum which is supposed to be better for the people,” Vereen said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “Everyone has their own agenda, but an agenda comes from a breath of creativity. My want is that they [politicians] will consider putting [the] arts back into school[s] full force for our children who can make a better difference in our world if we give them the tools that they need.”
He continued: “We need our creative thinking people in politics, in corporations to think on the up, rather than the down,” he said to HuffPost. “We are the thinkers that make things happen. My want is that they [politicians] go back into the communities and say, ‘we must become a force for the arts.’ We need government funding in order to keep the arts alive, yes. But the funding comes from us. So we need to reallocate where that funding goes.”
Over the course of his career, Vereen has been nominated for two Golden Globe awards for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture – Male in 1976 (Funny Girl) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV (“Ellis Island”), respectively. He has also been nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards (The Bell Telephone Jubilee and Roots, 1977; Intruders, 1992). As a stage actor, he has starred in eight productions on Broadway and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance as Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1972. The following season, Vereen won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his appearance as the Leading Player in Pippin in 1973. Vereen went on record stating that the next generation of world leaders will profit from the “intersection of the arts and politics” because with access to art supplies and music instruments, American children will have the great fortune of navigating various career opportunities.
Arts education is not the only thing Vereen is lending his passions. Last month, Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes treatment, announced that Vereen, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2007, has partnered with the Patient Ambassador Education Program.
“I am proud to work with Novo Nordisk to help empower others living with diabetes and let them know that diabetes does not have to hold you back,” said Ben Vereen. “As an entertainer, motivational speaker and an activist, I want to raise awareness of diabetes and encourage others to support one another.”
For more info on Americans for the Arts click here.