I had already clicked Save on Build Back Better when I saw the NY Times article about GM’s plan to sell only zero-emission cars by 2035. Wow. Just wow! A world leader for decades in the production of vehicles with internal combustion engines has decided its business is personal transportation and is not specifically tied to those engines. This is exactly like the reimagining that libraries have been/are doing transitioning from a self-image of repositories of books to sharers of information.
The time between now and whenever “post-pandemic” is a reality provides an important (and, we hope, a never to be repeated) opportunity for reimagining. The failure to lift our eyes and see that our core work can and should be connecting people with art is the principal source of the problems we have experienced over the last 20-30 years. The unfortunate tendency to be (even if we don’t realize it) European Aristocratic Culture preservation societies, stems from a habit of mind that thinks our job is limited to the presentation of EAC or EAC-rooted art. Not reconsidering this will cause us to stumble badly as the impact of the pandemic recedes.
Seeing the art-community connection as central is not a small alteration. It forces us to measure and value those connections rather than place primary focus on the content (and number) of performances and exhibitions. And, of course, counting butts in seats and eyes on walls is not a means of connecting with people!
The choice of what art to present will certainly remain with us and, at least theoretically, it could still be all or mostly from EAC. However, if we are listening to and learning from the communities we need to reach, they will develop an appreciation of us and we will probably be transformed–for the better–in a variety of important ways. More people benefitting from the arts, greater impact, vastly enhanced viability: what’s not to like?
Just like libraries and auto companies, reimagine and