Tuesday, May 5, 2020


The people of the world are threatened and are forced to do things many would rather not do.  Even more people than usual worry about the next paycheck - whether they will get one or not.  Meanwhile, there are others who, despite their own fears, do everything they can to help.  Amidst all of the turmoil and upset I am finding more and more people reaching out to each other in ways that utilize the arts in its many forms.

Let me first make it clear that there are many, many people who are NOT able to stay at home and self-isolate.  Many of these people are our medical professionals, postal employees, public safety professionals, cleaning staff and numerous others.  I can not hope to identify them all.  I can say that there are people out there who are exhausted and may have nothing left to give.  They are not bored - but I am guessing they would LOVE to be bored right now.  But, I am betting even they may be finding themselves drawn to the arts in the moments that they are given a moment to take a breath.

In Difficult Times, We Turn to the Arts
The news is filled with people holding impromptu 'front porch' concerts.  People standing on their balconies and singing together.  Artists who are unable to tour and perform in person find themselves offering their talents by putting together accessible recordings that can be shared via social media.  Churches of all faiths and creeds are finding ways to hold services at a distance, often tapping members of the church to share their talents in creative ways that still maintains our social distancing guidelines.

Some artists are creating public murals with uplifting themes.  Others are sharing works that were once behind paywalls so more people can view what their talents create.  Lyricists and poets are reading their works to audiences that listen from a distance.  Actors are reading stories, teachers are reading stories and story-tellers are sharing even more stories.  Photographers are generous with sharing their works and are perhaps even more active in their work than they were before the pandemic.  Humorists find ways to make us laugh, even when we don't feel like we should.. or can.

Suddenly, It Doesn't Matter That You're One of the Best
Clearly, there are many, many talented people in this world who have good hearts and I am glad that many of them are finding ways to share in an effort to help us work our way through this experience.  Similarly, I am amazed by the number of people who are finding ways to share artistic creativity even if they do not lay claim to outstanding skills.  What they can lay claim to (though these people will not likely admit to it for fear of boasting) is the presence of a giving soul that seeks to bring comfort to others.

Where Will We Place the Arts When We Reach the "Other Side?"
I am one of those people who has decided that I do not want the world to go 'back to normal' once we reach the other side of this pandemic.  Back to normal is a society that has too many people that do not think the arts are an important subject to be taught and learned in our schools.  I still remember fighting for forensics when I was in high school (it was terminated soon after I graduated).  Orchestra was under-funded even then and not a part of many school curricula.  This doesn't even begin to cover issues with schools providing opportunities for drama, dance and art.

It is clearer than ever that some people's talents do not fit into 9 to 5 jobs or 'productive skills.'  We've fallen into the trap that any skill needs to be 'monetized' to be of worth.

The recent series of "Songs of Comfort" being recorded by Yo Yo Ma for social media has nothing to do with sales and everything to do with one soul comforting another.  If cello isn't for you, James Taylor has done some similar work.  And, another of my favorites is Jon Foreman.  A cynic might say that their efforts just keeps their name in front of people - which can lead to sales.  But, I challenge you to watch what they do.  I am guessing you will come away feeling you had been given a gift.

There is a deep value to the arts, one that reaches the human soul.  Perhaps we should treat them more like a treasure than an afterthought.

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