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To stimulate or not -- should arts funding be included in the proposed stimulus package? I think it's as worthy as any other candidate for Federal funds, and it's bow-ready, brush-on-canvas, chisel-to-stone, ink-on-plate -- OK, stop! The best reason not to include the arts in a stimulus package is the fear of becoming a Federal metaphor.

That said, it's not easy for many to comprehend the "value" of art in their lives, something many of us take for granted, because it's what we do. I often fail at convincing the inconvincible -- maybe I'm ill prepared with a dizzying list of facts about concert and museum attendance and the related economic benefits; more likely I'm bored by the topic.

This past weekend, after a long day of flying, I was walking a long corridor at BWI airport, from my gate to baggage claim, passing gate after gate of weary-looking ticket holders. Towards the end of the concourse, with one side barren, all the seating removed, there came a sound not regularly heard at this airport: a young woman, propped in the window, her back to us, was practicing her violin.

Across the hall a gate full of passengers sat in a meditative trance, children, adults, every one of them listening to the sound of the instrument. My mood changed immediately as did everyone else in my group passing by, on our way to baggage claim.

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