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March 1, 2007

Why we need arts patrons

Bridgette Redman

Lansing, Michigan is still reeling from the death of aman whom everyone knew even though he was rarely in the headlines. After all, he was an arts patron and coverage is usually given to the performer. Yet articles like this show the difference that one person can make to the arts and cultural life of a community.

I would wish for every community that they could have a General Motors retiree who will inspire so many people and organizations. He made it possible for Lansing to have intimate jazz, black box theater, and visual art exhibits of new artists.

A Lansing State Journal columnist wrote today about the impact Busby had on his son--which was the same impact he had on a lot of people:

Busby's verdict, when it came, was not the gushing approval of a flatterer, but the knowledgeable, perceptive encouragement of a fellow artist, delivered with characteristic Busby understatement.

If my son didn't feel like a real artist before his encounter with Busby, I know he did so afterward. And I know that some day he'll recognize the experience for what it was: a boost upward in his life's trajectory.

Would that all critics could have the same praise said of them at least once in their careers.

And for people who doubt the power that art has in a community, I would invite them to see the reaction that has taken place in this community over the murder of this arts patron: neighboring businesses closed their doors so they could mourn and comfort each other, 250 people turned out for a candlelight vigil with only a few hours notice, the mayor proposed renaming a new bridge in Old Town after Busby, every online article about him has comments, and even non-arts people are mourning his loss.

Art matters. People doing art matters.

Posted by Bridgette Redman at March 1, 2007 11:21 AM

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