Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)

Congressional Arts Leadership
1999

For more than 35 years, Senator Edward M. Kennedy has carried forth the arts and humanities legacy his brother, John F. Kennedy, began. A legendary figure in his own right, Senator Kennedy has been described as "...good at what he does as Michael Jordan is at playing basketball," by President Bill Clinton in an interview with The New Yorker.

From his position as the senior lawmaker from Massachusetts, Senator Kennedy has passionately championed the need to nurture creativity and broaden access to artistic excellence. He is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, which has jurisdiction over arts and humanities issues, including oversight of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities and the Office of Museum and Library Services. He is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over intellectual property issues. Through his ardent work on both these committees, Kennedy has bridged the nonprofit and commercial arts sectors. He established public policies to protect the economic vitality and rights of visual and performing artists through copyright legislation and international treaties. Kennedy's legislative initiatives include authoring the Visual Artists Rights Act, the Ready to Learn Television Act, The Theft of Major Artwork provision in the 1994 crime bill, and co-authoring Authorization of the National Foundation of Arts and Humanities.

Throughout his work he carries strong messages of freedom of expression, tolerance and creative rights. He has spoken strongly of the central role of the federal government in supporting American cultural life, inspiring bipartisan cooperation among his colleagues in the Senate. Senator Kennedy has also been one of the trustees and stalwart supporters of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for over 20 years. He is a steadfast friend of the arts who can be counted on to write legislation to advance the arts, speak passionately about the role of the arts in our lives, and even step into a guest stint as conductor of the Boston Pops.

Educated at Harvard and the University of Virginia, Senator Kennedy is the youngest son of Joseph and Rose Kennedy's nine children. He has five children: Kara, Edward Jr., Patrick, Curran, and Caroline. He is married to Victoria Reggie Kennedy.