This was posted on the blog The Playgoer, December 7, 2010 and was included today in Tom Cott's useful "You've Cott Mail" e-newsletter (archive of past e-mails is here, where you can also click a link to sign up). Couldn't resist sharing!
Being here with tonight's honorees, reflecting on their contributions, I'm reminded of a Supreme Court opinion by the great Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. In a case argued before the Court in 1926, the majority ruled that the state of New York couldn't regulate the price of theater tickets, because, in the opinion of the majority, the theater was not a public necessity. They argued, in effect, that the experience of attending the theater was superfluous. And this is what Justice Holmes had to say: 'To many people the superfluous is necessary.' The theater is necessary. Dance is necessary. Song is necessary. The arts are necessary -- they are a necessary part of our lives.
-President Barack Obama, saluting this year's Kennedy Center Honorees.