The first lunar landing came about because of the burning desire to continually find solutions. Imagine if the organized, focused, determined efforts and money that it took to put mankind on the moon were put into rescuing the arts in America. The results would be staggering. What follows is my personal vision:
Step 1. Chuck Perrin’s newest labor of love, Dizzy’s Jazz Nightclub/Creative Artists Clubhouse in San Diego CA, leads the way in helping promote and stimulate the local living arts scene. His motto – no alcohol, TV’s, sports bar, hidden agendas stopping the pure outpouring of spontaneous expression – has created a unique “safe creative space” for musicians, artists and churches alike. Presently he has set it up so that the artists get 70% of the door per night. Now wait a minute! I know what you’re thinking. Working for the door, huh? The attendance varies from night to night (which can happen in any jazz nightclub.) But when some of the prominent local college jazz professors perform there it’s a completely different story. The teachers encourage the students to attend by giving them an opportunity to improve their letter grade. Voila! Literally hundreds of people are jamming in the front door and the bands are making a lot more coin. Wow, what a concept! Now let’s magnify that a million times. Envision all the high schools and college’s arts students (musicians, actors, visual arts, dancers, film makers) all over America having to complete their class curriculum by going out into the community supporting the arts. What has been missing all this time – an audience – is now out there in strength giving their love, support and money. Picture concerts halls, jazz clubs, restaurants, coffee houses, dance recitals, film showings, theatre presentations all getting the thing they need the most: enthusiastic, paying audiences on an ongoing basis. Creating a working model on the local level would be an excellent start. That would involve finding a few participating schools who are willing to initiate the program. Over a period of two years the project could be carefully monitored from the administrative, student and community points of view. The idea could then be expanded on a much larger scale.
Step 2. All businesses that are willing to support the living arts get a tax credit and a more prominent place in the business/artist/community eyes. This would inspire and encourage live offerings and change the bottom line attitude. Both these ideas wouldn’t cost very much to implement: it would just take some shared vision, forward thinking and organized motivation. In closing, I think that the arts students and their families supporting the arts, and a small amount of help from the government, could help us create the cultural shift and monetary support that we so desperately need to reinvigorate our souls and lives. Bye for now… Joe Azarello