Chang's argument rises out of the art-is-useful school of thought, but then moves to position that art can bring about personal and social change. "What we might call 'the creativity stimulus' goes far beyond job creation and even economic development," he writes. "Culture is not just something conservatives wage war on. The arts are not just something liberals dress up for on weekends. Creativity can be a powerful form of organizing communities from the bottom up." For instance, Obama got the idea for his green-jobs-for youth program from a program at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, where rappers joined forces with environmentalists.
So far the US still doesn't have an arts czar and Congress grudgingly included a paltry $50 million for the arts in the humongous stimulus package, but connecting political activism and art is finally becoming government policy rather than just a theoretical position in university humanities departments.