On a daily basis, I see signs pointing toward the notion that the great country in which I reside considers the arts a disposable commodity…something of little to no value in the grand scheme of corporate things. And it makes sense that those in power would feel that way. After all, isn’t America the central component in the great machine of capitalism? And to feed that machine, don’t we need workers willing to grind daily with the cogs and grease of commerce?
Sure we do. But at the end of the day, what does every corporate cog want to do when they arrive at home, kick off their shoes, pour a glass of pinot booze, and do what?
- Listen to music
- Watch a bit of television
- Check out the news
- Read a book
That’s right, you go home and enjoy the fruits of labor wrought by artists of every ilk. On top of that, you shop for clothing, engage in dance, spout of lyrics to Hamiliton as if it were little more than a tune or two spun on the radio.
The point? The influence of art is everywhere–in every single station of life–and without it, your existence would be far more of a drudge than it already is. The daily grind? More grindy. The rat race? More exhausting. Every. Single. Aspect of life would be less enjoyable without art.
And guess what…where do you think that art comes from? It comes from artists; those that work tirelessly to create from deep within the wells of their souls. Without us, your life gets exponentially less enjoyable.
But sadly, the political and corporate machine would like to do away with us. Every year I see evidence of that when schools dismantle various artistic endeavors. Theatre, music, and art departments are stricken from schools. The National Endowment for the Arts is underfunded. Artists with serious skills wind up having to forgo their talent for cubicle culture, just to put food on the table.
Thing is, we artists are all too familiar with society setting us aside for long periods of time. For decades, nay centuries, we have risen above, as we are legion and will not be trampled beneath the foot of commerce or bottom line. Why? Because while capitalism may heal need and medicine may heal the body, it is art that heals the soul.
George Bernard Shaw once said:
Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.
Nothing truer has ever been said of both art and reality. I was once a very optimistic person. And then, between artistic endeavors, I took a job in the world of business that turned every ounce of optimism I had into a soul crushing pessimism. The job was so far removed from my art and truth that I wound up angry, ugly, and bitter. It wasn’t until I walked away from that cubicle for good that I was able to begin the healing process.
Without the ability to enjoy my art, the world around me had become unbearable.
We’re going nowhere
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that it takes all kinds to make this glorious world go ’round in the science-y way it does. Without the blue and khaki army driving business and commerce, modern life would be a bit less viable (although Star Trek showed us that a Utopian society can work). But the powers that be–yes, I’m talking to you politicos–have to understand without art, existence veers toward existential defcon 1. The administration about to walk into power seems blind to that idea, so it will be up to the massive community of artists to stand up and remind them that we’re going nowhere and will not be shrugged off or shoved aside.
Never underestimate the power of art and artists. We have survived much worse than bottom line and we will continue to survive and thrive.