Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year: Resolutions For A Struggling Arts World and the Musicians Who Need to Survive in It!

Happy New Year!

Somehow, the New Year never fails to inspire many of us to resolve to “change” the way we've been doing particular things - both big and small. I can’t say I’ve ever really been one of those people who declares "New Year resolutions," but this time I suddenly found that there were indeed aspects of my life I felt compelled to, well, change; and the more I considered this, the more apparent it became why many people honestly consider the start of the year an opportunity to, in a way, "begin fresh."

New approaches and ideas that can lead to positive changes reminded me of links I recently received from a friend; these really ought to be read and heard by anyone who calls himself a music lover, especially those who recognize the importance of the change needed to ensure the future of classical music and jobs for musicians. The links lead to the video and text version of a very interesting discussion given by arts leader and speaker, Diane Ragsdale. You may have heard of her; she's become rather well-known for her compelling addresses concerning the economic impact that society's changes have had upon culture, and she has presented these speeches both in the US and abroad. Here are links to the one my friend sent me, entitled "Surviving the Culture Change:" Video (or click here for the text version).

The fact of the matter is that, yes, we are failing to produce a generation of listeners, attendees, and fans of art. Perhaps this can simply be attributed to the fact that its role as an underpinning of early education is no longer in existence. But meanwhile, beyond the financial implications of a waning population of fans and supporters (like musicians losing their jobs and competing against each other in a rapidly diminishing market), we are facing something even more difficult; something Ms. Ragsdale calls “the culture change.”

At this point, the challenge doesn’t appear to lie primarily in a lack of resources; Americans spend their money in all kinds of ways. Rather, the core issue is that people seem untouched, indeed entirely immune, to the discovery of meaning, significance, profundity, and aesthetic pleasure of art in all forms. In other words, it no longer provides that go-to for feeding one’s soul. "The arts can't declare mission accomplished just because they get people in the door. It is not sufficient to create artistic experiences and sell or give them away without regard for the capacity of people to receive them and find meaning in them." And I truly believe it is our job (the musicians, the arts leaders, etc.) to make our own discoveries that lead to, yes, changes, so that we may once again recapture the public’s appreciation and desire for the profoundly special work that we create.

Every paragraph of this discussion contains something of value and interest; I hope that you may read it (I do suggest reading the text version) and perhaps take away something relevant to your life in context with the arts.

Here's to 2011!

All for now.


P.S. Here is a photo of us with composer Seymour Barab last week in NYC - we performed his delightful duo at our concert for the New York Musician’s Club (aka “The Bohemians”) in NYC!