MAY 12, 1952
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I think attention should be called to the real contribution that the State of Virginia and its people are making to the cultural activities of our country.
Virginia was the first to have a state theatre. This was an outgrowth of the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, started by Robert Porterfield in the early 30's. In the depression days, I remember my excitement when I first saw what was being done by this small group of unemployed actors and actresses who were gaining their subsistence by bartering their talents for board and lodging.
When the State of Virginia took a hand a few years ago, quite a different situation existed. The Barter Theatre had become nationally known and people came from many states to attend its performances. Now it sends out traveling companies that go on a regular circuit and bring the joy of the living theatre to many communities that might never see a real play. This is sponsored by the State of Virginia.
There now comes to me a notice of a second Virginia enterprise. Last summer a music festival was started in Charlottesville, with Mozart chosen for their first performance. A federation of independent, non-profit organizations was successful enough in that first year to try a second year, and this June the composer will be Schubert. I did not know about the festival last year, but the recordings made of the Mozart festival last year were sold successfully and even had a large overseas sale.
There is often a feeling abroad that we are a people concerned only with making money. Perhaps they were surprised to find that a small and unknown group from one of our states could produce such good recordings. Let us hope this will happen again with the Schubert festival.
How I wish the Human Rights Commission would hurry up and do its work, for if I possibly can I would like to go to this festival in Charlottesville. They will have exhibitions of all kinds of Schubertiana which are now being prepared by the Austrian government for shipment to Virginia. The festival's master of ceremonies will be Robert E. Simon Jr., president of New York's Carnegie Hall, and there will be chamber music groups, lieder singers and renowned American conductors to make this second week in June an unforgettable one for those who attend.
People who are interested in privately-owned homes for the average American family should read "Two-Thirds of the Nation; A Housing Program," by Nathan Straus. No one who knows Mr. Straus, as I have for many years, will doubt his genuine and deep interest in providing the average-income family with a home if they want it. This book tells what is the matter with our housing. It stresses the fact that we must not allow the real estate lobby to pull the wool over our eyes, but must insist that government and private business consolidate their efforts to provide homes for the average American citizen.