I’m a photographer, poet, long-time community volunteer in the arts, and we support the arts financially as well as attend plays, opera, visit galleries and museums. I’ve been asked how I got interested in the arts. Some important steps along the way: ·
Mother was an advanced amateur classical pianist, who just played for her (and our) own pleasure. ·
Dad was a photographer all his life getting new equipment to try as it emerged in the marketplace. ·
There was visual art all around the house: paintings, prints, watercolors, sculpture. ·
Our parents were active in arts volunteer boards, something that continued until they died. ·
The St. Louis Symphony had children’s concerts (Kinder Concderts) where we were all bussed to what was then Kiel Auditorium for an afternoon of music and learning. ·
We went to the Muny every summer, every show. We saw touring plays and opera. ·
Dad was head of an advertising agency where ideas and art came together. ·
Music appreciation (classical, opera, liturgical) was part of the curriculum at our high school. ·
We all went to what they called “Fortnightly” to learn ballroom dancing (and manners).
I could add to this list, but it’s an indication of our immersion in the arts as part and parcel of everyday living.
Where it led me includes: ·
I went to a dancing school for a few years learning jazz and tap, acted in school plays all the way through high school. ·
After early tries at the piano, clarinet, and saxophone, I learned how to play the guitar and was a song leader at national Jewish youth group summer institutes. ·
I became a photographer at about age 10 with my first camera: Brownie Hawkeye. At 15, I had a darkroom and did all of my own developing and printing. I was photography editor or co-editor in high school and college of the newspaper and yearbook.
Our own children were raised in similar surroundings and milieu as my sisters and I were. And each of them has a job in the arts. Which brings me to the point of all this.
the overwhelming level of activities (sports, clubs, etc.) that consume the time of parents and children; ·
an increasing focus on “I” rather than “we” with the iPad, iPod, iPhone, laptop, desktop vortex; ·
a serious decrease in arts funding at the school district, state, and federal level reflecting how low the arts have sunk as a priority; ·
the death and aging of the generations that gave serious money to support the arts;
will the next generation be as involved in the arts, be as interested in the arts, be as supportive of the arts as my parents’ and my generation?
Since I believe for a civilization to be great it has to nurture and value the arts, where will we be if we do not engage the upcoming generations so they have the arts as a natural and important part of their lives?