How important are the arts?
It was recently announced that a local arts patron and benefactor gave $85 million dollars to the Cincinnati Symphony, Opera and the Ballet. The purpose of this extraordinary gift was to enable and ensure that musician salaries would be funded and keep the arts alive via live music in the community. This is a wonderful gift to our community and such a needed boost during these challenging times, especially for struggling arts organizations.
I read a letter to the editor in yesterday’s Cincinnati Enquirer criticizing the gift. The writer suggested that the money could be better used to help house and clothe homeless and out of work people. Indeed, assisting individuals with basic needs is fundamental and absolutely critical in a civilized culture. But so are the arts. Even though just a minority of individuals routinely attend live concerts, theater or visit art museums, the arts are pervasive throughout every day life.
Take your cereal box, which is found in pretty much every person’s kitchen. The design on the cereal box required some kind of artistic thought, not unlike the process used by artists of all kinds. Listen to the commercials on television. They require the same melodic elements that a composer employs – pitch, rhythm, harmony and form. When a culture does not support the arts at the highest level, that of the professional artist, then everyone suffers. The absence of art – in every form – at the highest level will ultimately trickle down to popular culture and everyday life. And our lives will turn to a monochrome black and white existence, without the rainbow of sounds and images that warm and delight our minds and souls.
So yes, please give generously at this time of year, and whenever you can, to those in need who don’t have the good luck that we do. But also remember the arts which needs each and every one of us too!
May you have peace and joy at this special time of year.