Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tony Gets It

Over at Tony Adams blog, he writes about the way we need to frame the debate about arts funding, and the need to shift the focus from the artist to the public. Hear! Hear! He concludes:

My father hates the government. He will never be supportive of public funding for the arts. If he was to learn that the Piss Christ is not actually representative of most of what is actually being done, he wouldn't tell others not to support the arts. And if there was something nearby for him to see, he's probably actually go.

If there were more artistic events to attend in Cisco, Texas, not only would Patty, my mom, probably go--dragging along my stepfather and step-sister Candace--but she could also probably be swayed to call her congressman to support the arts more.

My stepfather Pat has seen three plays in his life. He liked all three. All three were in Chicago. They live in Texas. If there were plays for them to see that didn't require driving for two hours and paying outrageous ticket prices, they would attend regularly.

We need to shift the debate away from why arts funding matters to arts organizations and artists. We need to talk not about why arts funding matters to artists, but why it matters to Chuck and Lynn, why it matters to Pat and Patty.

And I will append that the best way to make sure there are more artistic events in Cisco Texas is NOT (or at least, not ONLY) to bring in a touring show from Houston, but to support some artists who actually live in Cisco so that Pat and Patty actually KNOW some artists, and thus KNOW that they are people just like them. This is such a simple concept -- why is it so hard to get it through people's heads???


Tony Adams said...

But isn't there a need for both?

A yes, and . . approach?

There is a problem with only seeing works from your community, even if that community is the size of Chicago.

I'd liken it to college students who never take a class outside of their own department. They tend to have a very closed notion of the world around them, much like the acting students being told not to think.

If they stay exclusively in that department your gonna get a much different type of artist than one that is actively using their brain in other disciplines.

Could tours be useful in building early audiences for groups on the verge of starting up in towns with less than 100,000K?

Or if you can remove the militaristic overtone to the analogy, could a touring show from Houston provide early air cover for artistic ground troops in Cisco?

Scott Walters said...

Tony -- Absolutely there should be both! Right now, we have the tour without the local, which is not as beneficial as it could be. The problem is -- and I suspect this will not be accepted by everybody -- each place has its own aesthetic flavor, and something coming from a metropolitan area has concerns, rhythms, imagery, metaphors that speak to that place but may not have the same connotations elsewhere. As much as many would like to deny it, there really is a "culture of place," and it affects a lot.

Scott Walters said...
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