February 2009 Archives
Collectively [the arts] employ almost 6 million people. Crisis is a time for boldness, not timidity, and few recall an economic crisis quite like this one. So art museums, symphonies, theaters, dance companies and other cultural centers should get a huge infusion of funds.The other strategy comes from [Chris Jones](http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/the_theater_loop/2009/02/in-economic-stimulus-package-arts-deserve-place-in-line.html) of the Chicago Tribune. The arts have an implicit value to Americans, Jones says. Yet ...
... [s]omehow it has come to be broadly accepted that concrete, asphalt and medicine for the body (as distinct from the heart and soul) have greater moral worth.More arts means more jobs. The arts are morally good. The arts advocacy community has done little to press this case, even though it would challenge conservatives' own rhetoric. How can Coburn et al. not support jobs and morals? Maybe this is a generational issue that's slowly changing as the definition of the arts has changed and as the economics of America change. For a long, long time, the arts have been categorized as enrichment, something extra to be added to an education curricula whose objective was to produce good workers. That period has passed and the role of the arts has changed too. So much research has been done to show that arts are more than enrichment. They are vital, like math. It makes sense that a stimulus package with sights on long-term affects would set in place mechanisms that serve our economy and our souls. Younger people know this intuitively, because they are "creative" all the time. The modes of Web 2.0 require people to create -- blogs or music or remixes or what have you. These of course may be of dubious quality and worth, but they are nevertheless creative and those who engage in the of Web 2.0 -- meaning millions of people -- understand the arts, that they are more than "pork," that they are the center.
Here was an opportunity to show millions of people -- millions of people -- what an exciting thing poetry is. Look at what you gave them. Look at what you gave all those people who think poetry is dull, genteel, a form of little interest -- a dead thing.But I'm not convinced it was wasted, because I'm not convinced her poem could have made much of an impact from the outset. Even if her poem had been unbelievable, it would still have mostly fallen on deaf ears. I'm not judging Alexander or her poem or our culture's receptivity to poetry; I'm observing a fundamental law of show business: Be careful what act you follow. By the time Alexander took the podium, I'd stopped listening. Her poem came right after the new president's speech. By then, I was emotionally spent. And I have no doubt many, many thousands of others were, too. If Alexander was going to push poetry forward into American consciousness, she'd probably need to knock our socks off *before* Obama, not after. As it is, she left poetry pretty much where she found it. Fortunately, we have a president who knows how to turn a phrase. Maybe after four years of speeches -- and he's going to give a lot of them to save the economy -- more people will disagree that poetry is "dull, genteel, a form of little interest."
[Full story . . . ](http://eargasm.ccpblogs.com/2009/01/31/cso-plans-big-time-budget-slash/)
It's too early to itemize the exact consequences - but it's probably safe to say that we can expect a smaller core of musicians (currently around 46) and fewer concerts. What about glamorous soloists? Staff cuts? Venue changes? Educational efforts? Right now, there's no telling.
What won't suffer, according to the CSO's powers-that-be, will be the CSO's vaunted quality and reputation. We're talking bare survival, folks - and the CSO (and Charleston Stage & Ballet Theatre) are far from the only American artistic entities that teeter on the brink of collapse in these desperate times.