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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why You and I, Being Opera Singers and Opera Enthusiasts, Need to Get Off Our Tushes and Make Some Change Happen!

You know, all too often in these past few months have I noticed a few things happening in the realm of Opera (and the other art forms too--as the majority of our arts and cultural pursuits in the USA have been affected by these things) which I have not liked.  Not only have I not liked these changes, but I have watched as these changes rip apart people's lives, their incomes, their sense of well-being, and their hope of a better life for their children, and their childrens' children.

I mean, am I the only one wondering how a country, that is so humongous (let's face it, America is HUGE!) can be filled with people who are content to see these things happening, and just sit back and think, "Well, that really does suck, but...what can I do about it?"

And, to confess, I have been one of the people with this very attitude for the past two months!  (I think I was turned into a brainless zombie at the prospect of no arts...) But, I was, quite frankly, shocked to the core to return from Germany to my native land, and find that it had not only considered cutting all funding for arts programs, but that it actually HAD cut millions already from the existing National Endowment for the Arts budget!

Therefore, after taking a while to ponder why America is taking such rudimentary measures to solve a fiscal problem which can't obviously be solved with the pittance that makes up our country's arts funding, I figured, no need to solve the big problems, Julia: just focus on the ones that matter to those whom I love and care about.  Translation: find a way to fix our country's arts anathema, and to refuel the artists and arts lovers who have been literally and figuratively waylaid by America's cultural irresponsibility.

So, the question that naturally follows this mission statment is: how, exactly is one person going to fix such a HUGE mistake?  Well, that's where you come in, folks!

I am counting on each of you to consider, during the course of your normal day, how much of your time is spent participating in some sort of artistic experience: whether it be participating in an art form, observing one being performed or created, or even thinking about arts.  And, when you happen to realize each time that the arts has affected your life in the course of your day, I'd like to ask you to comment on this blog post, with your total number.

For example, today I rehearsed (that's 1), then I translated music (that's 2), then I listened to the radio in the car on the way to and from rehearsal (that's 3 and 4), then I read a book (that's 5), then I practiced privately (that's 6), then I watched a move (that's 7), then I read the NY Times arts section online (that's 8), then I Tweeted about the MENC Chase Grant program and how you should vote for it (that's 9), then I updated my website with professional engagements to come (that's 10), then I wrote this blog entry (that's 11).  And that doesn't even take into consideration all of the hours associated with completing these artistic experiences.

Therefore, I am hoping that through our collective visual recognition of how great an influence art has on our lives every day, we can all see the importance (hopefully now magnified, since it's part of our own experiences) of keeping the arts around, and vital, and funded!

But, since I know that all of you who read this blog are already comitted to supporting and participating in the arts, I'd like to ask you to do this, not for yourselves ultimately, but for those politicians to whom I am going to send the list of your comments--once complete---so that they can see just what kind of an impact they are eliminating when they decide to cut arts funding.

So, let's hear your #'s!! :)  (I've gotten us started below....)


  1. Today my arts activities were as follows:

    1) Writing copy about arts organizations
    2) Checking for the latest independent music news
    3)Listening to NPR's stream of the upcoming Fleet Foxes album
    4)Phone convo with a contact about an opera article I'm working on
    5) Listening to Q2, WNYC's new music channel/online stream
    6) A little research for the opera article
    7) Checking Pitchfork again
    8) More listening to Q2
    9) E-mail follow-ups on potential arts jobs
    10) Listening to my iPod during an afternoon walk
    11) Checking Pitchfork yet again (I'm a bit obsessive I guess), as well as NPR Music
    12)Tweeting about Gabriel Kahane's musical "February House"
    13) More e-mailing contacts/artists about opera article and a tableau vivant article
    14)Later, even more e-mailing about the above mentioned articles

    So, by my count, I have 14 total, if you count each individual instance. I hope I'm doing this right. I'd totally understand if one or two of those repeats don't count. ;) Thanks for coming up with this exercise, Julia! It's a lot of fun, and a great reminder about how vital the arts really is to everyday living.

    Daniel Kushner

  2. Today I am a 9:) Art is always around, on the subways and basically everywhere in is a sad thing that others do not see the importance of art.

  3. Today I was a 7! I've been working on keeping track mentally for the past months, but it's good for me to come back and re-read these posts to remind myself too of what things I've tried to implement in my awareness in order to improve my artistry and lift those up around me who are also creative artists! :)