When I was a teen, it always bothered me that this school I went to cut the music program, right when I was about to turn a senior. They weren’t teaching it to undergrads, so you can imagine the frustration I had when the class I anticipated taking that year was suddenly gone. Perhaps I would have found my niche with that teacher, whoever it would have been, and it could have brought me to even better places in my life.
Maybe my experience was just a regular high school dealing with its budget, but it just seems that when we talk about the US congress and the rather crusty attitude they have already displayed about the liberal arts, there are many people in charge that see the arts as frivolous and are completely disenfranchised from the value of art and its impact on society, and would much rather leave any kind of responsibility of funding for the arts to the private sector. You hear almost on some kind of regular basis that arts and arts-related programs have had funding cut by congress, or are in jeopardy of being cut. Do any of these people understand that art forms have had such a huge impact on other programs? Or other professions and businesses? Or people in general?
Perhaps even more dire things have transpired that need public attention, but could there ever come a time when our country could appoint somebody that could direct arts and cultural issues where they would have the best influence and effect?
It is interesting to see that other countries have a cultural ambassador and appointed secretaries of the arts. Wouldn’t it be great if we had that in this country?
Quincy Jones absolutely thought so–He’d been talking about it for a number of years, and he talked to President Obama about the possibility of making a Cabinet-level post. He even created an online petition for it. With 244,816 signatures, it’s unknown how far Jones got with the campaign as it doesn’t look like much else was done with it since 2009, and there doesn’t appear to be any other information about further developments.
It kind of says something about what such a concept is up against in this country.
But what’s weird is that this disconnect or non-support of the arts doesn’t just come from conservatives in congress. The distancing seems to have reached popular culture as well. Bill Maher was even speaking against funding for the arts on his TV show. Does he not understand that he is IN the arts? He’s an entertainer, but for some reason he seems to think charity for the arts just applies to opera.
Too bad he doesn’t hang with Kanye West, who thinks “Classical music is tight, yo!”. Maybe Kanye should be appointed the post of Secretary of Culture, he might even be the one that bridges the gap for disenfranchised adults.
I can’t necessarily speak from any kind of first-hand knowledge that the arts being more integrated into our school system is going to solve everything, but the reports of music aiding learning of other major required subjects for children is a much-needed beginning in their lives. Its impact on anyone’s skills is something that should never be regarded as frivolous.
I can say this with great certainty–If the job of ambassador is available, I want it!