Founded in 1989 by the late actor/director Ron Silver, The Creative Coalition (TCC) seeks to “brin[g] together artists and entertainers to learn about pressing issues so they can better inform and influence the community and nation.”Toward that end, the organization:
“sponsors forums for the discussion of central issues such as education policy, violence in America, the role of the media, campaign finance reform and other topics of broad concern”;
“testifies before Congress, sponsors awareness-building events, actively participates in the Democratic and Republican conventions, and plays an assertive role in presenting the creative community’s views on these issues”;
“offers special services to its members to help prepare them for public roles as advocates and spokespeople”; and
“tackles issues of direct importance to the arts and entertainment community, including First Amendment rights, public funding for the arts, and arts education in the public schools.”
Former TCC co-president, actor Joe Pantoliano, says the Coalition is in favor of helping parents become “media literate” by furnishing them with such “tools” as “clear [program] ratings guides” and “TV channel blocks” so they can monitor what their children watch on television. By so doing, says Pantoliano, the entertainment industry can address “parental concerns about broadcast content” while “preserving creative expression on the airwaves.”
TCC favors increased taxpayer support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a federal agency that, according to the Coalition, “provides critical funding for non-profit arts programs.” In 2009, for instance, TCC called for $50 million of stimulus-bill money to be channeled directly to the NEA.
Lamenting that “public education and the arts continue to suffer [in terms of reduced budgets and instructional time] in American schools, especially in poor and minority communities,” TCC urges a reversal of this trend. “Studies have shown,” says the Coalition, that “students who study the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, be elected to class office, and score higher on the SAT [and] are less likely to be involved with drugs.”
TCC members include hundreds of actors, writers, directors, producers, journalists, artists, agents, casting directors, attorneys, publicists, dancers, singers, and others affiliated with the arts and entertainment industry. The Coalition's current president, actor/director Tim Daly, states that those members, many of whom have high public profiles, are cognizant of their “role in shaping American culture” and thus view their “active involvement in our political system” as “important ... to the nation as a whole.”
TCC's board of directors includes such luminaries as comedian Richard Belzer, film producer Lawrence Bender, TV producer Colin Callender, Citigroup executive Lisa Caputo, actress Rachel Leigh Cook, billionaire businessman John Paul DeJoria, actress Dana Delany, actor Hector Elizondo, producer/agent Cassian Elwes, actor Giancarlo Esposito, writer/producer Tom Fontana, media lawyer Michael Frankfurt, actor/director Adrian Grenier, TV executive Doug Herzog, nightclub founder Caroline Hirsch, consulting executive Margery Kraus, author/TV producer Tonya Lewis Lee (wife of Spike Lee), actor/director Barry Levinson, actor Rob Lowe, media executive Eric Mika, actor Matthew Modine, political communications executive Hilary Rosen, producer/financial consultant Hal Sadoff, TV executive Henry Schleiff, actor/comedian Marlon Wayans, and actress Alfre Woodard.
The Coalition's advisory board features such notables as actress Jane Alexander, media critic Eric Alterman, actor Alec Baldwin, actress Stockard Channing, rapper Chuck D, actor Michael J. Fox, actress Bianca Jagger, political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell, talk radio host Ron Reagan, actress Susan Sarandon, actress Marlo Thomas, TV host Montel Williams, and actor Robin Williams.
TCC's membership and leadership alike include some of the entertainment world's wealthiest and most passionate supporters of President Barack Obama. Indeed, the Coalition hosted some extraordinarily extravagant, star-studded inaugural parties for Obama in January 2009. Later that year, TCC members were involved in an NEA/White House campaign to recruit 75 artists, musicians, writers, and poets to create a political "counter-narrative" to refute the claims of those who opposed the Democratichealthcare reform initiative popularly known as "Obamacare."
On July 19, 2011, President Obama, as part of his "Winning the Future" project, officially designated members of TCC as "America's Champions of Change for the Arts." Political commentator Michelle Malkin described this initiative, which was one of numerous "public engagement" efforts overseen by Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, as an example of “using the power of government to turn artists and entertainers into Obama policy lobbyists.”