Monday, June 11, 2012

Editorial: Arts good for the soul, and dirt cheap!

Today the unnamed Courier editor gives a nice pat on the head to the arts, saying "Those of us who are financially able need to protect our artisans with our ongoing contributions."

The implication that spending money on art and artistic experiences is some sort of charitable activity indicates that the editor does not understand the very real value that the arts furnish.

Businesses don't install art or hire artists out of the goodness of their hearts, rather because it attracts customers and improves the customer experience.

Artists aren't looking for charity or begging to be heard out of some pitiful need for ego-boosting. As with any other product, what we make and do varies in value according to the needs and wants of the customer. But here the editor seems to be promulgating the blockheaded idea, widespread in our arid cultural landscape, that art has no real value, insidiously, and likely unconsciously, undermining the industry he purports to promote.

The paper could be far more active and powerful in helping to connect readers with the many opportunities to experience and participate in artistic experiences in our area. If the editors were to dedicate half as much ink to the broad range of subjects that constitute "the arts" as they do to the narrow band we call "sports," they could do a great deal to fulfill the sentiment that the editor expresses here, with ensuing benefit to our communities as a whole.

"The arts" are industry, no different in form from any other manufacturing or service industry. Artists of all stripes deserve respect for their skills, training and productivity -- respect in the form of cash payment for their services and products commensurate with their value. That a thriving arts industry improves quality of life for the community as a whole is indisputable, and a factor you can't get from a new mine or private prison. Yet our municipal leaders routinely bend over backward and expend millions of dollars to attract businesses that impair quality of life, while treating artists little better than homeless vagrants and paying no more than lip service for the great value they provide.