What motivates people to choose careers? Many careers such as medicine, architecture, or law, are chosen simply for the sake of their prestige. If there was no stature attached to any of these fields, and they were simply there for those truly interested in taking part in these disciplines, they couldn’t be used as vehicles to enhance egos. The elevated stature of certain jobs ultimately condescends to the “lay person,” the average person who works their job to provide for themselves and their family.
In a world where all careers were valued equally, the “lay person” would not be the general contractor or trash collector – in fact, all people would have equal value. Everyone would be allowed dignity with whatever they were doing, whether it be managing a bookstore or working as a clerk. The emphasis would be on doing your job well.
What if any other career, such as a medicine, law, or architecture, had the same conditions as do the arts? Would it be considered acceptable? For instance, if after graduating from law school, a would-be lawyer had to solicit foundations and other organizations for funds to practice his craft?
Even the major dance companies and art galleries must solicit support and donations in order to survive. Just because that’s the way it has always been doesn’t make it okay.
Simply attending a performance and paying for the price of the tickets does not suffice to support the art. Many people hesitate to give to the arts and believe, naively, that they will always exist. Yet how can they when the arts are not valued as an essential element of life? When one really thinks about life without art, it is a chilling and drab picture.
What if you had no paint on your walls, no design to your car, no music on the radio? What if there were no trees on the hills, no blue sky, no gardens, no nature at all?
Art is not a charity; it is a necessity. It is the medium from which people cultivate their skill to be imaginative, and active imaginations are the seeds to progress. They cannot ferment into fruition in the stodgy world of greed.
It therefore annoys me that the first thing we cut in our educational systems are the arts’ programs. Please do not misconstrue the point I am about to make. If you want to learn about every behavioral facet and element in all its variations of a ten-foot wave, ask a surfer, not a scholar. A scholar in oceanography might have all the equations and observational studies about the weight and measures of a person’s possible experience with a ten-foot wave – but this is just information.
To have a real embodiment about the particulars of a ten-foot wave, a surfer will truly know, and will probably dab it with a bit of poetry. He will bring to you the true life in a ten-foot wave – the reality.
I don’t know about you, but before I go out to catch a ten-foot wave, I think I’ll ask the real scholar, not the armchair scholar. The scholar that had to put everything at risk and was willing to face many emotional challenges, fear being primary – and then overcoming that fear to understand the nature of harmonious co-existence. That is what the arts represent.
So why are we cutting them out of our curriculum? What is it that the unimaginative mind doesn’t understand? The accountant has no right to be making these kinds of decisions. He is wholly unqualified. And for the equation-bound mind, what don’t they get about action and reaction on a whole society with this kind of decision-making imbalance?
It is not really important how much money is spent, but how it is spent. To waste money on items such as a car that gets only nine miles to the gallon, and then to give only pennies to more honestly beneficial causes like the arts shows no appreciation for an amount of wealth that most people can only dream of having. It is a matter of perspective – to give only a tiny percentage to the arts or other worthy cause is not acceptable when one has millions.
To be truly thankful and appreciative one should live well with their good fortune, but should also spend their money in a way, and with a balance, that respects those who work as hard or harder than they do, at jobs that offer less pay and less prestige.
Those who are very serious about their art work much harder than the lawyer or the businessperson, and receive very little in return.
So when you are considering any kind of philanthropic action as it relates to the arts, consider these things.
And if you want to live in a world of imagination and robust spontaneity, understand that it depends on how much or how deep you are willing to dip your hand into your purse.