Monday, March 08, 2010

Ben Cameron on the Artistic Reformation

(Big h/t to Andrew Taylor)
Below is a video of former TCG director (now Doris Duke head) Ben Cameron at the Calgary TEDxYCC. If you listen carefully to his message, delivered articulately and passionately, you will hear many of the same themes I am sounding in CRADLE.

Cameron compares the current situation in the arts to the Protestant Reformation, which was driven by technology (the printing press) and fueled by the question of who was allowed to practice. And while Cameron acknowledges that the Reformation didn't eliminate the traditional church (i.e., the existing arts institutions, which bafflingly he refers to as the only opportunity for "economic dignity" for the artist -- really?), it did lead to a revolution in all aspects of society.

Today, Cameron goes on, the means of production and distribution have been democratized, and he notes that while arts audiences are shrinking, arts participation is exploding. He goes on to laud what he calls the "hybrid artist," artists who use their art in service of society. He mentions Liz Lerman and the Dance Exchange, Cornerstone Theatre Company, and Rhodessa Jones, all community-based artists who work with the communty to tell stories about them and with them. "The power of the arts," Cameron asserts, rests in the ability to "promote understanding of The Other," to allow marginalized people to tell their own stories.

I was inspired to hear this from someone like Cameron, whose has great knowledge of the field and who has a bully pulpit from which to speak. He ties in to the NEA's focus on "Art Work," repeating the importance of the arts to economic revitalization, but the real center of his speech is about the contributions that artists need to make to the Greater Good.

Again, thanks to Andrew Taylor for the link.

No comments: