Jul 9 2007

Dana Gioia “The role of culture must go beyond economics”

I can’t keep track of how many conversations I’ve had these past few years about how people don’t support the arts or come out to events. Lots of frustration on the part of artists, organizers, and institutions.

Here in Mobile, galleries come and go, and those galleries that are still open, are hanging on by their teeth. Museums have their own issues and “perhaps” stay alive longer since they get some governmental support. Artists are being forced to adapt more than ever before to make a living. This is not just a local phenomenon, although at times it feels that way, especially when we see other communities here on the coast and elsewhere (entire communities), show a genuine interest in art and their culture, and rally to make those kinds of events a success.

With the older generation of collectors and patrons dying out, it seems the new generation coming up are more interested in buying the big showy house and big showy vehicle, and then going to Pier One, Rooms to Go, Target, Walmart, Art Wholesale Warehouse, etc., for everything else. Is this a statement about our culture and the direction its going, or what?

I know that there are a lot of people who probably think that art is a waste of time and money, but it really is a chronicle of our culture, who we are/were, and where we are going as human beings. Goodness knows there is more to celebrate about a city’s heritage than its buildings. Thinking art and culture has no value, is incredibly short sighted.

Dana Gioia, the chairman of the National Endowments for the Arts, couldn’t have said it any better when he addressed Stanford graduates at their commencement ceremonies this year:
http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2007/june20/gradtrans-062007.html .