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Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Needed: Art For Art's Sake

By Drew McManus

I recently read your article The End of Arts Funding?.  I believe you've cut to the core of the problem with the performing arts and arts management at this point in history.  Unfortunately, I believe things will become much worse before they become better.  With performing arts organizations borrowing heavily against their own endowments and relying on lines of credit to make payroll, they are only prolonging their eminent demise.   As you say in your article, most organizations are following rather than inspiring, becoming the the final nail in their artistic coffin.

I believe the rebirth of performing arts organizations will come in the form of smaller ensembles that strive to create art for art's sake.  This genuine approach will strike a connection to communities and create enthusiasm.  The audience is out there waiting to be found. As a private music teacher and musician I have had the pleasure of introducing many adult students into the world of live performance art.  

The baby boom generation that grew up with television rather than live music entertainment is now realizing that their lives are missing something, and that something is cultural fulfillment.  With their children grown and gone they have disposable income and time.  I've had hundreds of adult music students looking to fill that void with private lessons.  They are all excited about the prospect of this "unknown" world of classical music performance.  

Unfortunately, with programming and elitist attitude that has become entrenched in the american music scene they feel uncomfortable and out of place at symphony concerts.  Hopefully these new ensembles that will rise from the artistic ashes will begin to be a haven for them and their desire to nourish their artistic souls.  Music education isn't the answer, massive amounts of funds into symphony education programs isn't the answer, cultural elitism isn't the answer.  A genuine honest approach to creating art for art's sake will eventually be the savior of live performance art.  I appreciate your work with the ArtsJournal and your personal views.  Only then will the arts be able to comfortably rely on individual supporters instead of cultural welfare or simply being an economic commodity.

Drew McManus

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