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Pessimism

May 21, 2010

Blogs are tough.   If you are not famous or don’t have major social controversy or gossip, then you just don’t count.  No one cares about issues anymore.   We only seem to care if the issue directly affects our daily life.  One of my colleagues told me, “If you want to get faculty to a meeting, tell them parking will be discussed.  It is a sure-fire way to fill the room.”   Sad, isn’t it?

Now perhaps discussing the future of the arts is not as crucial as feeding starving orphans.  But in the recent NY Times article on  the top 40 bloggers, crucial items are not discussed in their blogs either. However, discussing the pros and cons of the last American Idol episode apparently are crucial issues to our lives. 

So now I am just pessimistic.  I started this blog hoping to create a dialogue on why the arts were important to people. I expected to hear some interesting stories about how the arts personally affected people’s lives.  Or at least I would learn that more than 4 people out there in the larger scope of the world bother to respond.  But no.  The world is a big black hole that is more concerned with Tiger Wood’s affairs than anything of substance.

So I should not be surprised that no matter what I post no one wants to comment on it.

What would it take?  What do you want to discuss about the arts?  Why are you even in the arts?  Does it have any special meaning to your life?  What if all the arts funding in and out of academia were cut?  Would you be concerned then?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. allison permalink
    May 21, 2010 5:54 pm

    Crystal, I think this blog is a great idea. You are so right about the potential cutting of the arts. In fact, on the most recent episode of Glee they glancingly addressed this matter, only to breeze over it. But arts are a crucial part to human existence. They help kids do better in school, they keep them out of trouble, and they teach them to express their emotions. I do and will always believe that the arts are a crucial matter in society today.

  2. Nate Richardson permalink
    May 21, 2010 11:41 pm

    Crystal, I’m really glad you posted this, cause I really hope I can brighten your spirits! I often feel a little pessimistic about societal support for the arts. But then I remember why I originally got involved in the arts, and why so many of my friends are in the arts. First of all, we all love the community of working with others who share our passions. And secondly, it’s because we love to see something that we can’t take our eyes off of; that makes us think in different ways than we did before. When I was three years old, my parents took me to see the Boston Ballet Nutcracker. 3-year-old me was absolutely blown away. By the next year, I was taking classes at Boston Ballet School, and by the time I was in fourth grade I was performing in the very show I had been so impressed by. Although I eventually stopped taking ballet lessons, I switched to singing and theater. There has been almost no part of my life when I haven’t been heavily involved in the arts, and I can’t imagine what my life would be without them. The arts are have been what got me through high school, and what are getting me through college. The thing we have to remember as artists is the following: Even though we aren’t surgeons , who are directly saving lives, we do introduce beauty, light, and thought into people’s lives. Even the most frivolous musical can help someone; simply by being a needed distraction from the business of real life or even just putting a smile on his or her face.

  3. George Cooke permalink
    May 22, 2010 9:06 am

    Hi Crystal,

    I might suggest caution when extrapolating out the number of comments on this, or any blog, to people’s interest in the arts or in substantial issues. I recall back in the mid-90’s, when online book publishing was just getting going, an article in Harper’s magazine about the pros and cons of ebooks. The discussion hinged on the perceived pros of self-empowerment and the break down of barriers to expression vs the perceived potential cons of too much information and time needed to sort through the good from the bad. Essentially, traditional bookstores, in the article, were considered as an extension of the convenience and efficiency that was the hierarchy of publishers. Our choices were being made for us. Ebooks promised something else. Real choice, but high volume. So I think the lack of comments here are probably due to the volume of info out there and lack of awareness (I didn’t know you had a blog until you emailed me yesterday).

    I appreciate Nate’s comments about the “community” and I hope that his comments did pick up your spirits, but I think the idea of a community working together does bring up the idea of creativity vs interpretation that Shep brought up in one of the other posts. While the collaborative process of putting on the Nutcracker is a community-based arts experience, probably the process of writing the Nutcracker is not. I think, for many folks, involvement in the arts is not due to a love of community, but, rather, an exploration of self-expression. I do agree with Nate’s comments that interpretation of large scale ballet and musical theater is part of the arts, but I think that experience is very different from contemplating a lump of clay or staring at a blank canvas.

    My mom is a painter. She has managed to carve out a career that allows her to be creative and work in her studio. I think most people who are reading this blog would understand the difficulties in such an endeavor. However, very early on, I asked if she wanted to be famous, and she replied that she has accepted her insignificance (in the grand scheme of things) and that being “famous” (however that is defined) is not a concern. In my more cynical moments, I have thought that the musicians I know that are famous are the ones that have no self-doubt and a boundless capacity for self-promotion. I do think that there is a tension between humility, subjective interpretation of quality, and self-promotion in the arts. In some ways, I think arts promotion is the responsibility of institutions like a University (in an inherently subjective and sometimes frustrating manner, but better than no promotion) and, maybe, if these efforts continue (which your blog suggests is not a good assumption) this will allow the person staring at the canvas to get some work done.

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