I just received an email that Frederick Arts Council will get a serious cut in funding from the County. This affects not only that funding, but also funding they receive from the Maryland State Arts Council, so the cut is really twice the size seen in the budget. So why should government fund the Arts?
It seems to me that one of the primary functions of an artist -- performing, visual or lliterary is be the conscience of society. Artists should be commenting on how they see the world. We should be commenting on problems and priorities. We should be giving our opinions about what we think the moral and ethical dilemmas and directions should be. We do this in a way that attracts the senses and engages those senses in conversation with the brain.
Unfortunately, too much art has moved in a direction of being little more that entertainment. And, when it comes to budget crunches, entertainment is a prime target.
As artists, we need to take the work we do far more seriously. We have a responsibility to be the moral and ethical compass of the communities in which we live. That is a large burden to carry. Are we up to it? Are we willing to really dig into oour own moral and ethical foundations and see what they are made of? Are we willing to go out on a limb for a cause? Can we do more than just point to problems - do we have reasonable solutions? Do we have a clear and compelling vision for the future - of our families, our communities, our nation, our world?
Politicians have, for the most part, failed to lead us into a better future. The mess that now threatens the Gulf Coast is a good indication of a failure of government and corporations. They have long touted a "get whatever you can as quick as you can" mentality that leaves people and the environment in a mess. Our government was set up to be "of the people, by the people and for the people." It is hardly that anymore. It is up to us artists to put that out. It is up to "the people" to reclaim the vision originally intended for this country (and for this world).