I know I sound like a broken record but… The Arts Matter!!! I can’t help it, so let me rattle on a bit about it. I just came across the speech given by Michelle Obama at the G-20 in Pittsburgh and I really appreciate this speech being given at such a turning point in our nation’s history. So often the arts are forgotten. They are thrown to the side, cast out and referred to as past times of the upper class. The arts are the first thing that we cut in budgets and are often thought of as a bonus, as the fluff. In the last twelve months we have seen major cuts across the board from opera companies and several opera companies have shut their doors for good. I lost two jobs this past year due to the economy and many singer friends are in the same boat. I love the fact that during a time of economic crisis our First Lady is talking about the arts and their importance to our society. It is something that I am most passionate about not just because I am an opera singer and I make my living in the arts, but because I feel that truly the arts allow us to express ourselves and when we express ourselves honestly through art, we better understand one another. Understanding leads to talking which ultimately and hopefully leads to peace, even if only for a moment. It gives people an outlet and lets them know that they are not alone. It makes them stop and think and I mean really stop from the busy work schedules and sit and hear something beautiful or something different. It requires stopping and looking at a piece of art and contemplating why it is there or what the artist was trying to say. It gives us space in our busy lives and helps us relate to one another and that is why I believe we need more of it, not less. Whew, there. I promise, I am almost done with my soap box!
I challenge you to a week of seeing what art can do for you. Get out your paints or your knitting. Dust off that old clarinet or that old piano and spend time daily playing something. It could be just making noise. Write in a journal for a week and see if you find clarity or maybe a story that needs to be told. Get up and dance in the mornings to your favorite music. Be creative. I believe that by allowing your creative juices to flow you become more attuned to yourself and more attuned to others. Give it a week and you will see how it will change you and who knows, it may stick for the rest of your life!
"And ... people who might not speak a single word of the same language, who might not have a single shared experience, might still be drawn together when their hearts are lifted by the notes of a song, or their souls are stirred by a vision on a canvas."Michelle Obama
"That is the power of the arts -- to remind us of what we each have to offer, and what we all have in common; to help us understand our history and imagine our future; to give us hope in the moments of struggle; and to bring us together when nothing else will. That is what we celebrate here today.”