Invoking the wisdom of the late Sen­ator Edward M. Kennedy regarding the role of gov­ern­ment in the arts, Mass­a­chu­setts Cul­tural Council exec­u­tive director Anita Walker said Thursday that the arts are “our col­lec­tive asset and col­lec­tive responsibility.”

Walker’s speech, titled “Sen­ator Edward Kennedy and Sup­port for the Arts,” was part of Boston Gui­tar­Fest, a joint col­lab­o­ra­tion between North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and the New Eng­land Con­ser­va­tory. The event, which was ded­i­cated to the memory of the late sen­ator, was held in a lec­ture hall at the conservatory.

Walker applauded Kennedy’s com­mit­ment to the arts, which, she noted, he incor­po­rated into his argu­ment for uni­versal health care. From doctor training to patient treat­ment, Kennedy main­tained that the arts play a vital role in health care, she said.

In con­trast with Kennedy’s view­point, Walked said that public school offi­cials often choose to cut art pro­grams from the school-​​wide cur­riculum when bud­gets are lean. The schools need more cre­ative courses for the imag­i­na­tive mind, said Walker, adding that all chil­dren deserve the oppor­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the arts– a right that begins at birth.

Walker has served as exec­u­tive director of the council since April 2007 and is the Commonwealth’s highest-​​ranking cul­tural offi­cial, over­seeing a $14 mil­lion budget that sup­ports a range of grants, ser­vices, and pro­grams for the arts, human­i­ties and sci­ences in every com­mu­nity in Massachusetts.

In April, North­eastern announced the renaming of the public charter high school Health Careers Academy to the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, in honor of the late sen­ator. North­eastern is home to the academy, which was founded by health pro­fes­sionals in 1996 and pre­pares Boston stu­dents for careers in health sci­ences and related fields.