Talking cultural advocacy with Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo MaThis morning I met Yo-Yo Ma again and not only does he remain one of the nicest people I have ever met, he articulated some of the most interesting thoughts about culture and multiculturalism in an interview I witnessed. You can hear pieces of the interview this Saturday, August 12, from 8:00 to 12:00 noon on WFMT98.7 in Chicago, as a part of the CSO’s season preview.

This afternoon, as advertised in the previous post, Yo-Yo Ma engaged in a live chat on I had a chance to post a question and asked him about the role of an artist in cultural policy, as he has recently testified before Congress to relax visa regulations for visiting artists. Here’s how Yo-Yo Ma replied:

“Marc, thanks for your question. I think that all societies have political, economic and cultural engines.”

“I think the best thing is when all three engines are running strongly and independently. Sometimes, though one of the engines can inadvertently have a negative impact on another one of the engines.”

“When that happens, I think it’s important to correct that, and I testified before Congress because they thought I could bring a point of view, from the cultural realm, that would illuminate their work in the political realm.”

First of all, it is great that he takes the time and effort to advocate his position in cultural policies. But most of all, he has the leading light power to actually be heard and make the difference. Yo-Yo Ma might be one of the world’s finest cellists, but his engagement to arts advocacy and education makes him all the more admirable in my book.