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 Post subject: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:57 pm 
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Quote:
Arts have value that goes beyond economics

PJ Star

It's the kind of conversation I dread - the kind of exchange that makes me wonder whether those of us who think the arts are a good thing are doing a bad job of explaining why. <a href=http://www.pjstar.com/stories/011605/GAR_B58EEUC5.026.shtml target=_blank>more</a>
&nbsp

See also this topic in the Managing Dance forum: The Economic Impact of the Arts


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:57 am 
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Location: Estonia
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Creating a living

by the PJ Star

If your ambition is to write, dance, perform music, do theater or paint, be prepared to be an entrepreneur as well as an artist, ...

Be prepared, that is, to think of your career path as a work of art in its own right.
more


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 2:41 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Hats off to the Peoria Journal Star for two articles in one issue that address key areas in the arts/commerce interface.

"You have to be an entrepreneur." That's true, but sometimes artists find someone (or ar found) who will undertake the entrepreneur role for them: Lincoln Kerstein for Balanchine in ballet, Ismael Merchant for James Ivory in film. If only Orsen Welles had had someone like that.

Estonian contemporary dance is very lucky to have Priit Raud who performs the entrepreneur function for a variety of dance artists.

Can anyone think of other arts/commerce combinations?

<small>[ 19 January 2005, 03:43 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 7:00 am 
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No I can't think of other combinations, but I can think of a whole boatload of people in arts, especially equestrian (I consider a true equestrian master to be an artist), that could do with a good business partner. So many 'artists' sabotage their careers with poor management.
Then again, the film industry, and many sports have taken the meaning of agent/business manager to heights (or would that be lows?) that I'm not sure we would necessarily want to emulate.


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:42 pm 
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There is plenty of documentation that teaching kids an art -- any art -- enhances the learning experience. Pick a school, any school, with a program in dance, be it classical or modern; music, be it jazz or hip-hop; writing, be it sonnets or rap; cooking, be it French or Asian or any other art discipline and I will show you a school that persistently outperforms its peers on every standardized test.

Why does this happen? I see lots of reasons. Kids see a way to express their individuality. Kids see a way to avoid the rigid limits of routine exercises. And they need help coping with bad numbers. Kids see new ways of defining ways to win, but they need to work to the next mornings' figures as well.

With support and encouragement, kids can master the arts. They may become virtuosos or CEOs or just decent working folk. But let's give them a chance, right now.

<small>[ 20 January 2005, 12:13 AM: Message edited by: Morris Neighbor ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:07 pm 
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This article from MENC, the National Association for Music Education, has some nice arguements:
Quote:
“Every student in the nation should have an education in the arts.” This is the opening statement of “The Value and Quality of Arts Education: A Statement of Principles,” a document from the nation’s ten most important educational organizations, including the American Association of School Administrators, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the National School Boards Association.

More . . .


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 6:45 pm 
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This is an interesting topic, that the arts can catalzye economic progress in a community or cognitive development in a human. Of course, there's no easy equation, and there are many different ways to prove a hypothesis.

In the arts education arena, there's a chicken-or-egg question. Are the kids in schools that teach arts benefiting cognitively because of their exposure to culture? Or is the student body a self-selected group of kids from intellectually-astute families, who can afford to pay for instruments, lessons, and send them to a private school that offers training in these subjects? It would not be surprising if children of privilege performed better on standardized tests.

Harvard published a study in 2001 that claimed the causal link between arts and learning was quite weak. The researchers' assertion was that it is detrimental to arts education to claim that it will improve academic achievement -- instead of demanding arts education because of the instrinisic value of the arts themselves. That is, if the arts education doesn't produce a class of Einsteins, there goes your arts education budget forever.

I'm not arguing for it, but the study is worth a look for anyone interested in the topic: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/Research/Reap/REAPExecSum.htm

The issue of economic benefit is also a point of argument. When I wrote a story for the NY Times last July 4 about the salaries that administrators and conductors of major orchestras earn, I developed a sense that some performing arts groups are costing their communities more than they return in the public service they are supposed to provide in return for their tax-exempt nonprofit status.

Not only were salaries high -- Lorin Maazel gets $2.3 million for 14 weeks of conducting at the NY Philharmonic, while the executive director Zarin Mehta, under whose leadership the philharmonic botched their "move" to Carnegie, earns $600,000 plus $150,000 in benefits -- but I started to see the orchestra budgets as a structure not to support art, but to support all these people who have insisted on working as full-time professionals in the arts. (By the way, I am one of those people, I play oboe.) Of course, leaders at for-profit companies earn big bucks, and so should these leaders, some argue. But if these organizations, which are classified as public charities, can afford those sums, fine...but shouldn't they start paying taxes as well? At least, that's what the IRS is starting to ask.

When these symphonies started going full-time in 1964, a blueprint was put in place with labor agreements, and the orchestras were then committed to providing year-round employment, whether they could fill the hall or not. At the biggest orchestras, members enjoy 10 weeks paid vacation. I saw huge marketing expenses listed on tax forms, employing staffers and consultants (and THAT can be a high-earning profession, non-profit consulting) to find ways of selling tickets to people who didn't want to buy them. To pay for all this marketing, they spend another couple million for professional fundraisers, and it turns into a giant Catch-22. The audience is left holding the bag, with unaffordable ticket prices. Something is very wrong.

At times, it seems that "working in the arts" has little to do with painting, music, or dance anymore.

So, here is a little food for thought. I am eager to read others' thoughts on these topics.

Best regards,
Blair Tindall

_________________
Blair Tindall
--Author, "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music" (Grove/Atlantic Press, July 2005)
www.mozartinthejungle.com


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:23 am 
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Wow, so much you said there!

I don't know about everyone else, but for some kids (such as myself), arts can be a lifeline. They can be your connection to sanity and reality and a sense of purpose.

What do I remember about elementry school? Some of the highlights were:
* Ms. "MacElvane" (sic?), my 3d grade orchestra teacher. That was a wonderful experience, I played the violin in it.
* In fourth grade (new school), the art teacher was the ONLY teacher who did not hate me after two weeks (I was a difficult kid, I suppose).
* I sang enthusiastically in the school chorus in 4th, 5th and 6th grade. We sang a lot of popular music that I otherwise would have had no exposure to: Barry Manilow, Niel Diamond ("Heart Light"), Hair ("Good Morning Starshine") and many others. We sang in New York, and then went to the top of one of the midtown skyscrapers. We recorded the song "Wanderlust" at a real recording studio, back when a recording studio cost more than an iMac and a bit of foam padding. The music teacher was a Beatles fan, and he would bring in his guitars and synthesizers to demonstrate to us. I even enrolled in his guitar class (but forgot it all). Yes, Mr. Lastimirsky was an incredible public school music teacher (and still teaches there, I believe). Some parents complained he focused too much on popular music. So then we sang Mozart too.
* In my 4th/5th grade class, we would have a 10-minute recess at the end of the day. It was the trailing end of the disco era, and my classmates would bring in the latest Motown: "Celebration" (Kool and the Gang), "Disco Duck", etc. They would also bring in some of the "old school" rap (which was new then): Run DMC, Sugar Hill Gang, etc. Little did I know I was witnessing the start of a music revolution.

I won't go into the rest of my arts life, either outside of school or in later years. But my point is: even if 90% of the kids have no need for arts, is that an excuse to deprive the last 10% of what makes them sane in an otherwise cruel school system?

Finally, I am someone who DID come from the right side of the tracks. My parents exposed me to the classical arts, especially music and dance as well. What they did NOT expose me to was other important parts of our musical heritage: Jazz, Rock, Hip-Hop. These I got by actively seeking them out, and through public school as well. And appreciating it all has allowed me to better connect with the world outside of the cultural ghetto in which I was raised. So arts in public school can be an IMPORTANT way of bringing people together and sharing our humanity.

And I think it's important to remember that arts is more than the big arts institutions with bloated budgets and falling revenue. Arts to me is about teachers --- people willing to come to you as a child or adult, and share their art with out. Arts is about watching your teachers perform. It is about singer-songwriters you follow around to coffee shops, buying their CD on the spot (because it's NOT available at Tower Records). It's about downloading the latest bootleg mix MP3, works like "The Grey Album" that pushes the boundaries of copyright law. It's about visiting Rockport and browsing galleries of local painters, realizing that the painting you see in front of you is every bit as authentic as the Mona Lisa, and that you are allowed to react to the painting and buy it if you like it --- even though you may forget the painter's name.

Yes, art is about intimacy. If we experience only big-budget art, we come to believe it is something that OTHERS do to PRESENT to us and ENTERTAIN us. We fail to grasp that art is so much more, something WE can PARTICIPATE in at a personal and local level as well.

And... art is also about the big institutions. It's about the orchestra and the ballet. It's about seeing priceless treasures in the Museum of Fine Arts. It's about the peace of a courtyard and paintings at the Cloisters in Manhattan, or the Gardner in Boston. It's about our reactions to those paintings, as in the music "Pictures at an Exhibition". It's about walking through gigantic installations of falling crepe paper and eerie sounds at the Mass Museaum of Contemporary Art.

Art is even about being pushed, ground up and spit out the other end by those institutions. It's about the students pushing so hard to be all they can be at Julliard and SAB. It's about the sense of being carried along by a tidal wave, then left out to see to find your own way when it's all over.

BUT...

Let's not ever think that the big institutions are more important than they really are. It would certainly be a grave loss to humanity if they were to all go bankrupt and disappear. But there would still be art; the process and the value in that process would still be as alive as ever. We would still sing and play music and dance and paint. We would find new ways to do it without big budgets, because that is what we have always done. If a bunch of kids in the South Bronx who have nothing can start a musical revolution of hip-hop and break dancing, then I don't fear at all for the future of art itself.

<small>[ 25 January 2005, 08:26 AM: Message edited by: citibob ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 1:35 pm 
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First let me say: Citibob, what a thoughtful and eloquent response.
Having been a part of the corporate world for a long time, I have seen those corporate leaders to whom everything is related to the 'Bottom Line'. In my experience they are, ultimately, doomed to failure, in the corporate sense, as well as fulfilled human beings. They develop tunnel vision, and are unable to appreciate things in a manner that will allow them to expand their senses. Those limited senses eventually hamper them in their quest for 'more'.


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 9:53 pm 
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Citibob: That was a moving response.

You expressed very well something that's bothered me for some time. Why is "arts education" (imagine this said with a lockjawed sneer..."AHHHHHHTS education") presumed to mean only 200 years of music, even less of dance, and mostly Shakespearean theater? (Visual art is a whole other discussion.)

I have two degrees in music performance and a 30-year career playing with such organizations as the NY Philharmonic. Yet I'm still mystified as to why "classical" music is often so much more revered than pop tunes. As far as I can tell from playing both (classical types end up, if we're lucky, backing up great pop artists too) it's the same old 12 tones and same harmonies.

I, too, got a lot out of singing my heart out in general music class back in North Carolina many years ago. But I'm not clear on whether folks consider that "arts education." Yet it's that kind of musical exposure that's especially valuable because it teaches you that anyone can participate in something that releases so much of your soul, whether you're good at it or not, or don't have the money to rent or study an instrument formally.

I found a statistic while researching my book that spoke volumes: the number of people who sing or play an instrument dropped by half between 1992-2002, according to the NEA, from around 7 million to only 3.5 million. I know from being a professional that some of my amateur musician friends feel so intimidated that they're not Yo Yo Ma that they are too embarrassed to play! That is a real tragedy.

I'm still working out why the outcry over arts education funding sometimes enrages me. I guess it's that I, and many of my other pro musician contemporaries (I am 44) have little skill or knowledge in humanities, math, and science. We can play scales though!

But seriously, I have to want to know even more about the study I mentioned in my last post, in which arts education is believed to show little effect on general academic achievement. I think that strategy *can* backfire, and that ultimately the authors of the study are right, that promoting early exposure and particiption in the arts for passion, pleasure, and emotional release is more productive than shoving Mozart down the kiddies' throats like spinach in a blind attempt to improve their SAT scores.

Here's a poignant scene. When I was at the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1975, we were bussed off to the SAT test, without any explanation of where we were going, or what it was. At this point, between 10th-12th grades, we had been required to take only two years of English, one semester of geometry, one semester of biology, and to tell someone we'd done some kind of solitary physical exercise in lieu of a gym class. (Yeah, right.) No chemistry, history, social studies, physics, etc.

Although we high schoolers routinely did drugs, had sex, and drank our adolescent brains out in the high school dorms virtually unsupervised, the school chose this occasion, the SAT, to provide us with a fussy grandma chaperone.

On the way back from the test, a ballerina leaned over to the grandma chaperone, and whispered furtively: "Why was that test called SAT? Because it's Saturday?" Does that tell you how academically advanced and intellectually balanced many people like me in "the AHHHHHHTS" can end up?

Think about that next time you hear the arts are so great for academic achievement.

Here's another example. While in high school at age 15 at the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1975, I met a 23-year-old black-Latino violinist who had dropped out of Juilliard after a failed suicide attempt. NCSA recruited him because he was an extraordinary talent -- concertmaster of their orchestra -- and as a bonus they could trot him out as a minority at a time of transition in southern civil rights. "Look at our zoo animal...we're so progressive!"

The fiddler, as a kid, had been somewhat interested in violin, just like kids get interested in soccer, ballet, and hey, illegal fireworks. But well-meaning teachers pushed, pushed, pushed, and before he knew it he was enrolled in Juilliard pre-college. "Isn't it NICE, how music saved this minority kid, etc." (I must add that his father beat him...it was not a good home situation, and he remains a friend today.)

Suffice it to say an identity crisis ensued. Didn't fit with the white elitist thing (full discosure: I am a white female elitist thing myself) and he was shunned by his African-American childhood friends. The end result...he became a raging alcoholic and smashed the precious French violin a well-meaning patron had donated to him, into smithereeens after bombing the Bach Chaconne in a master class.

But this is a dance page. Don't even get me started on the bulimia taking place on my dorm floor at NCSA in the late 1970s. I hope ballerinas aren't still doing what they did then, and I have no idea if they are. Certainly, nutritional information is much more available today.

These were VERY young girls, some as young as 12, plopped into a dormitory situation with lots of influences. And a stringent policy, at the time, of being pink-slipped for "fat conferences" with their instructors, who had the power to not invite them back for the following year. What you saw in the bathrooms on my hall, when I was 15, was indescribable, although I tried to do so when writing my book. We're talking ice cream, orange doritos, and Ex-Lax, if that means anything to you. And lots of new mop heads.

Anyway, I digress. Thanks again, Citibob, for your post, and I would love to hear about more people like you who have had positive, intimate experiences with the arts as kids.

_________________
Blair Tindall
--Author, "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music" (Grove/Atlantic Press, July 2005)
www.mozartinthejungle.com


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:26 pm 
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Is anyone on this forum, besides me, old enough to remember Saturday Review Magazine (prior to its rebirth in the '70's)? If so, you may recall that Arthur Schlesinger used to occasionally contribute. I recall a back page essay in which he argued for the support of the arts. I have never been able to find the article since that time in order to accurately quote him, but he said something along the lines of -- Our civilization will not be remembered by the size of its arsenal. Rather, it will be remembered through its poetry, music, photographs, and all other art. That was the gist of it, I believe. So, the value of art has to do with preserving a civilization as well as enhancing understanding of our current state (condition, if you will). An example: the weaving of Shakespeare's R & J with Prokofiev's score, and McMillan's choreography. Why are audience members moved to tears; how has the dramatic, musical, choreographic experience changed them or affected how they will interact with others for the next few hours, days or years? Experiencing the arts transports many to a place in their souls where they would not otherwise go during their everyday lives - to a place where, arguably, we should go more often. Is it worth formally putting our children on the path toward that through formal arts education? I think so.


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 12:10 am 
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Poohtunia: You are really onto something there, that I think "arts education" has lost sight of. Was this the quote...

"The United States will be measured in the eyes of posterity not by its economic power nor by its military might, not by the territories it has annexed nor by the battles it has won, but by its character and achievement as a civilization."

I got goosebumps reading your post about the beauty of a performance. How can we emphasize the importance of exposure to the arts so that funds can be allocated to that kind of pure arts education? It seems that arts education often must be tied to economic or academic improvement to warrant attention or funding, instead of simply valuing the uplifting beauty of great art.

_________________
Blair Tindall
--Author, "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music" (Grove/Atlantic Press, July 2005)
www.mozartinthejungle.com


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 6:48 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
It seems that arts education often must be tied to economic or academic improvement to warrant attention or funding, instead of simply valuing the uplifting beauty of great art.
Blair, I wonder how many of the people who would be receptive to that argument are not already singing in the choir.

I would love to bring people to ars gratia artis, but if it's more effective to appeal to their capitalist natures or their understandable wish to see their children excel intellectually, well, I'm OK with that; I know that once we get them to the table, they'll learn to value the arts for the same reasons we do.

Welcome to criticaldance, by the way.

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 6:51 am 
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Although it's not the same quote, it's along the same lines. Schlessinger devoted much of his writing to advocating support of the arts, and he managed to repeat his message in so many ways that it's probably art itself.


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 Post subject: Re: Value of the Arts Beyond Economics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 10:51 pm 
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Hello Blair! Long time no see!

Well, I have always believed that great societies are remembered by their culture. What marked the greatness of Indian, Chinese, Greek, and Roman societies? Their armies gave them might and their wealth gave them influence but their ability to produce art was what allowed us to respect them as the great societies in history.


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