Drawing Courtesy Emily Petrella
In the last 10 minutes of part 2 of our interview with Susan and Nick of The Concert Truck (episode #147), I recalled a conversation I had many years ago with a friend in the US Navy Band in Washington, DC. He was on the team responsible for overseeing the logistics of their annual US tour, and told me there were places they’d visited where they were the only live “classical music” some people have ever heard. When I asked Susan and Nick how it makes them feel that they could be the only live classical music some will ever hear, they said it was a powerful thought and makes them feel uneasy because it puts a lot of pressure on them as performers. We didn’t discuss why they felt pressure, but I assumed that as conscientious musicians they were focusing mainly on the pressure to perform their best, especially if they would be the only live classical music some in the audience would ever experience.
But performing, or creating any art, is only one aspect of being an artist. The conversation with my friend stuck with me because that scenario could occur in any arts medium. It also illustrated the importance of access to the arts, and building the arts ecosystem by supporting each other. If you’re reading this you likely participate in some aspect of the arts economy, so when was the last time you attended a ceramics exhibit, or a percussion ensemble concert, or a modern dance performance, or a film festival, a Chinese opera, or visited a gallery?
Here’s an example of how one industry worked together for a cause: A few times over the years I had the opportunity to participate in the NAMM Fly-In. It’s a 2-day event each May where music products/publishing industry representatives in retail, distribution, and manufacturing from around the US travel to Washington, DC to speak with senators and representatives about the importance of music in schools. One year we were lobbying for legislation that included a $1.6B arts component that would, in part, promote music in schools, and in order to have music in schools you need MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. Again, we were the music products industry…
As a colleague and I were wrapping up our meeting in a US Senator’s office, in filed 30-40 people—farmers and representatives from seed companies, farm equipment companies, insurance companies, and so on, for a farm bill that was being discussed. It was an impressive display of unity and savvy in how they approached their lobbying goal. The difference was striking. The music products industry lobbied as a silo for an arts bill, while the farming industry brought their ecosystem to lobby for a farm bill!
Supporters of the arts are typically interested in a few different arts mediums, so it’s not a zero sum game of one art OR another. For example, many times I would see the same donors and patrons attend fundraisers for the symphony, ballet, opera, jazz, and visual art events. If we want the arts to thrive, we need to stop thinking in silos and discuss ways in which we can work together to build the arts ecosystem. In fact, start now by asking, “What have I done recently to support other artists or to grow the arts ecosystem?”
Thanks for reading,
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