Several years ago, I had a the opportunity to produce an event at which the music impresario Bob Geldorf spoke. He was the founder of the massive international fundraising concert Live Aid. Turns out, not only is Geldorf a spectacularly successful concert promoter, he is also an eloquent poet-philosopher. On this particular occasion, he described the role we require of artists I our society. He said, we send our artists to the furthest reaches of the universe, and once there, ask them to turn back in so they can make sense for all of us of what they see.
I think Geldorf got it exactly right.
Through the exquisite angst of their solitary endeavors, artists reveal the most universal of human truths. They share their life lessons, exploring the wonder and irony, the despair and exhilaration that they encounter along the way. And the better we come to know their work, the more powerfully we understand ourselves.
Artists translate the epic and unrelenting beauty that surrounds us in the natural world and uncover the spaces for us to fit into that landscape. To describe their role in a different way, we could call these artistic translators “linguists.”
Artists shine an unforgiving spotlight on the dark and damaged places in our world requiring our attention on things that might more easily be ignored. In other words, artists are reporters and journalists.
Artists craft intimacy in a vast expanse. They coax humanness from the other-worldly. They create comfort in the strange and unfamiliar. So artists can also be described as designers, scientists, and anthropologists.
Would you not wish any of those professions and skills for your children and grandchildren? Are those not ambitions and endeavors of the highest order?
Let me move for a moment from the lyrical to the literal defense of art with some scientific evidence.
Studies on the importance of arts education are both conclusive and convincing. They show that among many other benefits:
And here is the gut-punch statistic:
Which brings me to my final point.
I believe that art is the universal language. It has the power to build bridges across oceans of difference … it helps us discover the connective threads in our human tapestry.
I believe that art is a healing agent. It has the power to smooth the jagged edge of broken spirits … to ease the wounds of doubt.
I believe that art inspires us all to reach for our highest purpose.
In fact, I believe that art is pure most treasured natural resource.
If you can take the small leap of faith with me, then together we can all believe in a world…
Beliefs can only be realized through bold stewardship of our creative eco-system. Add your voice to a chorus of activities who are care taking our creative community. Commit now to ensure that this generation of young people will have huge opportunity to experience the Magic of discover and delight that only comes through the arts – and this generation will, in turn, help us all live life more fully and more beautifully in this community that we are proud to call home.
Because if, at the end of this journey, our passion has date no difference, we will have cheated the future a measure of its possibility.
And for anyone who joins this choir of support, please take to heart this sentiment about the power of giving from the remarkable Gandhi who said: The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose.
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Russell Johnson and Pat Meier Johnson
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