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Should We Ask More of Our Arts Patrons?


by Gail Sachson 30 Jun 2008

Sunday’s New York Times had a lengthy article about supporting the Arts: “Arts Patrons, The Next Gerneration.” Kathryn Shattuck wrote an informative article about the philanthropic legacy of arts-supporting families. She wrote of the 20-30 year olds who are “not merely passing through, writing a check and dressing up for a night in order to […]

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Sunday’s New York Times had a lengthy article about supporting the Arts: Arts Patrons, The Next Gerneration.”

Kathryn Shattuck wrote an informative article about the philanthropic legacy of arts-supporting families. She wrote of the 20-30 year olds who are “not merely passing through, writing a check and dressing up for a night in order to rub the right sholders.” She wrote about their assuming positions on arts Boards, chairing fundraisers and managing their family’s donations to the arts through their foundations.

I applaud these young men and women and praise their parents for encouraging such involvement, dedication and philanthropy to the arts. BUT — let me assume the voice of an invited graduation speaker, challenging the audience to capture their dreams and discover themselves.

Their parents may have bought tables to the Museum Ball, be subscribers to the Symphony, donated to the Opera and chaired numerous fundraisers, but these young people have to do more! THEY HAVE TO CHALLENGE AND ALLOW THEMSELVES TO ACTUALLY BE THE ARTISTS THEY SUPPORT!

They have to give themselves permission to follow incredibly stimulating and rewarding, although possibly not lucrative, paths. They have to convince their parents that an artist’s life is commendable. They have to train, study and explore their potential to actually be the poets, the painters, the musicians, dancers and actors they fund. Should we and can we ask more of our arts patrons?

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  • See and hear on the internet at musea.us with about 70 back issues of my zine on all aspects of the media, arts, and art revolution; plus numerous special features like Musea art guides, the National Zine Hall of Fame and numerous self published books. OR hear the music and see 30+ youtube like videos on hunkasaurus.com OR read the weekly e-mail club messages and art contests at musea.wordpress.com OR pick up a copy at those handful of places in Dallas that carry my free zine. OR
    Hear live music every Tuesday and Wednesday at the world’s first and only box office concerts at the Inwood Theater.
    Picture: http://www.glanger.com/clients/Hendricks/TomHendricks2/pages/VJ0O0373.htm
    New Century, new art!

  • Oh and I almost forgot the obvious – look at the Art and Seek website data base – a nice place to be listed. Look under arts and culture advocacy groups, Musea.

  • I think the assumption often made is that there is a “great divide” which results in one group of “creative people” and another group of “non-creative people”. I think that like many generalizations, this generalization misses the mark by painting with too broad a brush.

    In my own case, my “day job” is practicing law, while my avocation is making ambient music. The stereotype that attorneys do not artists make fails to apply to me. Similarly, though, the stereotype that creative people are by definition impractical is often very wide of the mark. The musically-inclined among my friends often work quite practical jobs to support their vocations. This is not unusual–the composer Charles Ives carved out a successful career with an insurance firm. It’s true that the “bohemian artist” exists from time to time, self-liberated from the practicalities of earning a living, but this stereotype has been used to paint too broad a brush on a dedicated set of people who make art and music and hold down jobs capably to make ends meet.

    In the arena of music, we sometimes lament in our area the decline of the once-thriving “club music” scene that gave rise to a number of fine acts.
    Yet the internet makes this a particularly exciting time to make music.
    I co-own a netlabel with a friend in the UK. We release albums by artists from a diverse set of places, all available for free Creative Commons-licensed download.

    Our listeners are from all over the country and many places around the world. The existence of a “club scene” in Dallas is irrelevant to what we do.
    At the same time, I find there are a number of positive developments in music in the Dallas area. The Bend Studio concerts show that listener-oriented small space performances can be a working alternative to the old-time bar scene. The guitar studio in McKinney has similarly sponsored some exquisite guitar concerts in small space in Collin County. In the rock music arena, Mike Ziemer’s Plano Centre concerts seek to spotlight local acts for a home-grown music scene. Dallas still has a good concert scene among the indie bands which have “broken” nationally, and we still have the enviable situation of getting most good concert tours without tickets being impossible to achieve.

    I used to live in Los Angeles. There the bands often must pay the clubs to play, and take all the financial risk of a club show. The local scene is filled with people from elsewhere who wish to get the “big deal”. Those who imagine that the west coast, for example, is a heaven for musicians may not have visited the “scene”.

    I do wonder, sometimes, at our institutional culture’s view of the “arts scene”. As much as I would enjoy a concert hall in Collin County, I wonder if we would not be better off with a more modest hall and an arts endowment that actively supported chamber players, touring classical performances, and arts programs. The notion that only an 80 million dollar 2,100 seat facility will “do” seems to me to fail to calculate what impact an arts center would have. It’s a bit like, to draw an analogy, spending city money to build a convention hotel, but only at the cost of closing the public aquarium.

    We in Dallas can do better in our support of the arts. But the issue is not whether we are encouraging artists and poets to be artists and poets. The issue is whether we are recognizing that the arts are not limited to Board of Directors of edifices, but instead are a living, breathing part of all of our lives.

    Robert, who records as gurdonark