I wish there were a way to place your excellent article "Why Government is Bailing Out of the Arts" (5/29/03) on the desk or computer screen of every arts executive in the country. There is a glaring and bizarre dichotomy between how we arts professionals and almost everyone else seem to view our creative world.
Among the first images corporate America so often turns to when trying to associate a product with excellence and high quality are long-established symbols of classical music: the debonair, white-haired conductor; the symphony orchestra; the glamorous-looking cellist or soprano; the intense, matinee-idol soloist. These pictures almost automatically convey achievement, distinction, and classiness.
But how have we in the music world increasingly marketed ourselves? As average Joes, done up in silly or sleazy clothes (looking either like a garage band or a group of hookers), desperately hoping to seem “hip,” but appearing more foolish than trendy. It is as if a 5-star restaurant decided to attract more diners by featuring its hot dogs and pound cake.
We’ve managed to debase and then squander our greatest assets: thrilling, edge-of-the-seat adventures and deeply transforming experiences, created by the finest and most imaginative minds of the last several centuries, and delivered by highly-trained, dazzlingly-accomplished performing artists. Why are we afraid to sell that -- and sell it to the hilt?
Artistic and Executive Director