When you close your eyes and think of ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, feudal Japan, what do you see? What symbolizes “Vikings” to you? If you had to make a person walk into a room and have an “experience” (without food or drink) that is French, or Irish, or Mexican, what would you do? How do you know what life as a musketeer might have been like? How do you know what gods the ancient Greeks worshiped, and how they acted?
I hate Nazis, snakes, and rich people who think art is only meant for rich people.
How many people knew who Alexander Hamilton was before 2015?
What is the book “The Crucible” about, and what inspired it?
How many lives did Dorothea Lange’s photographs save, how much hidden history did they preserve?
Art (writing, painting, theater, dance, music, et al) is important not only as entertainment, but also as expression, history, education, and provocation. Art is also one of the most defining and enduring attributes of a culture.
What defines American culture to the world beyond McDonalds and Starbucks in every town? In 100 years when someone is making a holovid about the period, how will they evoke “Early 21st century America”? How will they learn about experiences not captured in mainstream media, or the increasingly constrained press?
We need the arts. They may not seem important in the day-to-day life of many, but those lives have in fact been touched and shaped by the arts in a thousand invisible, and visible, ways.
And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that many rural and low-income areas rely on PBS and on arts program funding to have any access to the arts, free educational experiences, and the opening of options and opportunities. When coupled with an Education Secretary who’s made it her life’s work to shift funding and support away from public schools to private and charter schools, this aspect is even more important.
There was a recent WWII movie called The Monuments Men about Allied art experts fighting to save art from Nazi theft and destruction. A new fight to preserve a nation’s cultural heritage may be upon us, and that culture is our own.
The Republicans are closing in!
The Republicans have tried many times to undermine and defund the National Endowment for the Arts, usually because it supported something that dared challenge what they have deemed is appropriate for us to experience. And now supposedly Trump has said he wants to defund the NEA. He wants to defund a program that coincidentally supports non-dominant, non-mainstream voices and experiences from being expressed and preserved.
Rise up and let your voice be heard.