First day of graduate classes and I’ve already learned something. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is an ardent arts supporter and advocate!
In my “Survey of Arts Management” class, my professor asked us to read this quote by Maddow and give our thoughts:
“Sometimes we choose to serve our country in uniform, in war. Sometimes in elected office. And those are the ways of serving our country that I think we are trained to easily call heroic. It’s also a service to your country, I think, to teach poetry in the prisons, to be an incredibly dedicated student of dance, to fight for funding music and arts education in the schools. A country without an expectation of minimal artistic literacy, without a basic structure by which the artists among us can be awakened and given the choice of following their talents and a way to get to be great at what they do, is a country that is not actually as great as it could be. And a country without the capacity to nurture artistic greatness is not being a great country. It is a service to our country, and sometimes it is heroic service to our country, to fight for the United States of America to have the capacity to nurture artistic greatness.”
This quote comes from a speech given at Jacob’s Pillow, a dance festival based in Massachusetts, where Maddow spoke out on behalf of the arts and the value they hold in society.
I was both surprised and delighted to read this quote. As I don’t have television anymore, I am not able to follow the 24hr news cycle or any of the cable news programming that Ms. Maddow’s show is on. However, it is refreshing and even uplifting to see that there are prominent journalistic voices speaking out on behalf of the arts in this country. And not only speaking about them in ways that we are used to, i.e., arts are valuable, arts create jobs, etc., but speaking to the heart of the American patriotic spirit that runs so strongly through the veins of so many Americans. Could this be a new way for garnering wide spread public support of arts funding? Granted, I am still a newbie when it comes to arts marketing, but I have yet to hear the “arts as patriotism” angle that Maddow seams to be getting at.
She poses a very poignant question and one that I have never heard before. Essentially she asks,“Why is serving your country only thought of in terms of military or elected office?” Artists provide such a great and honorable service to this country, and to every country in which they reside. The service IS the art form; those being inspired ARE the ones being served. Artists provide a service that is sometimes hard to measure in tangible terms. Their product is their art, but the byproduct of that creation is inspiration, self-reflection and innovative though in the minds of those experiencing the art.