Monday, October 06, 2008

And my soapbox looks artsy too.

Recently, the Salt Lake Tribune published an article on the presidential candidates’ platform on the arts. The Americans for the Arts wrote to each candidate awhile ago asking them to release their position on public funding for the arts. Obama organized a 33 person committee to research the topic and responded with a comprehensive, well thought out and clear plan while McCain released four sentences that read like something cut and pasted from general statements as to why art is nice. I typically don’t write or even talk about politics, but some things get me going.

Not only do the arts define our cultural history and make life worth living, but economically, arts are an asset to our country. Artists and art-related nonprofits generate about $166.2 billion in revenue per year and $12.6 billion in annual taxes.

It is businesses such as Apple, Pixar and Procter & Gamble that seem to thrive in this economic crisis. You better believe they have trained artists and designers working for them. If you think about it, the competitive business edge belongs to innovators who add an aesthetic touch and provide creative solutions. These are the stand-out businesses that people take notice of. And finally leaders in government, business, and education are becoming savvy to what those in the arts have always known: to fuel creativity and innovation, you need to invest in the arts.

I rarely take the time to read comments on these articles, let alone comment myself, but after reading a couple reactions to the Obama/McCain statements on the arts (which you can read in the Trib article I linked above), I had to say something.

Seriously? Arts platform? Who cares? I can't believe this is a story.

tivogirl: It is no surprise your post drips with disdain for art. TV addiction has eroded our intellectual capabilities, modeled ineffective problem-solving skills, decimated conversation, promises instant gratification, and acts as a superficial barrier to boredom. Studies reveal people often know more about fictional sit-com characters than they do their own friends, spouses and children.

Art instead is a language that cuts across racial, cultural, social, educational, and economic barriers and enhances cultural appreciation and awareness. The arts help students succeed in school and life by providing them an opportunity to develop habits of mind such as critical and creative thinking, perseverance and dedication to task. On the highest levels of literacy, in the realms of social and personal growth and development, and in the development of higher-order thinking skills, the arts provide an ideal setting for multi-faceted and profound learning experiences.

After the events of 9/11 who among us was not moved by the playing of our national anthem? For me, nothing is more profound than standing side by side with the families of fallen soldiers as the trumpet weeps Taps into the still and grief laden air. Literature, painting, sculpture, photography, dance, and theater, have touched each of us. What do we bequeath young lovers, if not poetry and music? You and your family may find no value in art. You, like millions of Americans may prefer Seinfeld to singing, painting, dancing, or playing the piano. I do however appreciate a candidate that provided a well-crafted, thoughtful and detailed platform that demonstrates a profound appreciation for the arts and its place in the great history of our nation and our world. In comparison, John McCain submitted a platform dripping with the same disdain as you have displayed here. No wonder he is your candidate, and if he wins, I hope you and your family, enjoy what you deserve.

tivogirl and one hand clapping:
I had to comment briefly on your exchange...I don't think very many people look deep enough to see the art in everything around us. Even an episode of Seinfeld employs an innumerable amount of artists: writers, set designers, wardrobe, film editors, cinematographers, lighting design, ACTORS, musicians. I would like to see, just for one day, what the world would look like without the influence of art (and yes, even public funded art). It will be a bland, silent and dreary day, but at least people might get a clue.

Anyway, I thought I’d post that because I doubt anyone will read my comment seeing how it’s several days after the article was published. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to vote, I’m just letting you know how I feel about public funding for the arts. I have other examples on the vitality of arts education (not only for children but for adults and seniors as well), but this is all I have to say for now.


Maria said...

I have a (probably)dumb question. You mention businesses like Apple, Pixar and Procter & Gamble as well as large media studios. How do non profit art organizations or public funded galleries, programs, etc. correlate? I realize they have trained artists working for them, but wouldn't they need to go to a university for that training?

I agree with what you are saying, and find it unfortuante that an reply to a policy request would be four paragraphs, but I was just wondering. I'm sure there is a connection I'm just not seeing...again.. I said it was probably stupid...

Maria said...

I also find it unfortunate that I can't spell/grammar check my comments...yikes.

Laura Lee said...

It's not a stupid question. I'm glad you asked. One example: Arts Education in public schools: that's where a lot of people are introduced to art, especially those who don't have parents who can afford to pay for music, art lessons or take their kids to the theatre. Cutting these programs in the schools may take away the opportunity for a child to see if it's something they're interested in or good at (like they have the chance with language or math or science) so they don't pursue it.

Example 2: other non profits such as symphonies, operas, art galleries, museums are a huge boost to the tourism industry. Just look at NYC...people stay there longer because they want to see a play, or go to a museum. So they spend money on those things and then they spend more money on hotels, restaurants, etc. -- thus boosting the economy.

SRA said...

I'd expect nothing less (or more, in McCain's case) from either of them. That response is symptomatic of so much about both of them.

Kristi said...

There are so many time requirements I have to meet during my day that there is absolutely no time left for art or music. It is very frustrating because it is so important (especially for the kids I work with). So now I just close my door somedays and we do what we want. Don't tell anyone.

Suzi said...

Laura, You point up such an important issue (the arts). Thank you for the insight...I so want our grandchildren exposed to the finer things in this world of mass media and commonplace pasttimes...we would be wise to look to the arts for comfort, cultural stretching and clearer and more profound communication among ourselves. Wasn't the concert great last ight? Love, Suzi

Kelly Durham said...

Fabulous post, Laura! I had no idea what the candidates' positions were on this issue. Thanks for bringing it up! I'm leaving the Land of Lauralot feeling enlightened and edified.

Cameron's Corner said...

I hate it when I make a really great comment on a news board and then it disappears onto Page 2 almost immediately and I think, "Great. Now no one is going to see it."

I can totally sympathize.

(Is this neutral enough of a comment?)

Tony the Tiger said...

Thanks for letting me know where our next president stands on the arts. There are myriads of studies that show that kids that are involved in the arts, perform better in all academics. It's always sad that when funding gets tight, the first thing to go is the arts. This was recently borne out in the demise of "The Music School" in American Fork. Fortunately for Zach, his band, The Crescent Super Band, lives on to play another day. They just won't have the awesome facilities and infrastructure they once had at The Music School.