President Obama has appointed a cultural figure with deep ties to the Berkshires to his committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Albany native and Berkshires resident Kim Taylor says it’s been a whirlwind since she received the call from Pennsylvania Avenue. Taylor is a Trustee of the Boston Symphony who’s been with the organization for more than 30 years. She has worked with President Obama on both his campaigns, along with her husband, James, who you may have heard of.
“James and I, when we worked for the President we did not have anything that we were expecting in return,” Taylor said. “It was just a great honor to be able to do the work we did. This was a wonderful surprise that I was approached and asked to be a member of the committee. It’s just one of those opportunities in life that you don’t see coming, but you’re sure happy that they did.”
But Taylor says the announcement also comes with some disappointment and even a touch of embarrassment.
“I will miss the Supreme Court swearing in and I will miss the first meeting,” she admitted. “So when it rains, it pours.”
Instead, she and her husband will be attending an event in Boston marking the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death. Taylor says she isn’t exactly sure what her role is going to be on the committee, but sees promise in her fellow committee members.
“It’s a pretty exciting group,” Taylor pointed out. “I know that Yo-Yo Ma is a member, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Wintour, who is the editor of Vogue, Kerry Washington and Forest Whitaker. So I think Yo-Yo and I are the only two from classical music on it, which will be fun. Anything that Yo-Yo is on is bound to have a lot of energy and a high success rate.”
Having worked with Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood, Taylor says she is looking forward to reuniting with the cellist in the slightly more formal setting of the nation’s capital. A singer, actress and writer, Taylor says she has been able to profit from a life of living just a stone’s throw from the various cultural institutions that dot the Berkshires.
“I’m really grateful for the chance to raise the flag for the arts in any way I can, especially here in the Berkshires, where they are so bountiful and diverse,” she said. “They do so much for the fabric of our lives here. Anything I can do to increase the visibility of the arts here, that’s something very dear to my heart.”
Created in 1982, the committee serves as an advisory board to the White House on cultural issues working with federal agencies and the private sector to develop and support arts and humanities based programs. The committee is primarily involved with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The nation’s First Lady serves as the committee’s honorary chair. A theater performer since high school, Taylor received a degree in English literature from Smith College and wrote for the Boston Globe and Boston Magazine. Mark Volpe is the managing director of the Boston Symphony. He calls Taylor a close confidante.
“She is an expert in the arts and she is a fantastic advocate for the Berkshires,” Volpe said. “She certainly knows music. She was a terrific writer and I think occasionally still finds time to write. I don’t think you could find a better appointee and I was delighted the President saw fit to appoint her.”