Mrs. Obama Praises Arts as Vital to U.S.

Was2346039The first lady, Michelle Obama, visited New York City on Monday to promote the arts, celebrating opening night at the American Ballet Theater and the reopening of part of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mrs. Obama described the nation’s creative spirit as critical to its ideals and its identity, and said the arts needed to be nurtured even during difficult economic times. She noted that her husband had included $50 million in his economic stimulus package for the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The arts are not just a nice thing to have,” she said, adding that the arts “define who we are as a people.”

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Pictured: Michelle Obama (R) is introduced by Caroline Kennedy as she speaks to the crowd at the American Ballet Opening Night Spring Gala May 18, 2009 at the Metropolitan Opera House. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)