Cultural Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts in New York State’s Southern Tier
I attended the Cultural blueprints last wednesday. It was a unique opportunity for artists to network, contribute their ideas and become aware of issues with regard to their art. I noticed that there were very few artists (I have to be careful how I phrase that. What I mean when I say artist is someone who was representing the forum/conference as an individual artist and not on behalf of an organization. Since that made a difference in how and what concerns were voiced) at the conference. For one thing it took 4 emails for me to recognize that this is something that i might want to attend. why is that? well for one thing the first paragraph read:
“The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes invite you to participate in Cultural Blueprints, an unprecedented opportunity for the arts, economic development, business, civic and philanthropic communities to develop new ways to work toward our mutual goal – improving the lives of New Yorkers.”
Improving the life of new yorkers! That is a pretty lofty goal for me. I for one am still caught up in the maze of how to make a living as an artist. No doubt that I take pride and comfort in the fact that my art contributes to the happiness of my blog visitors who have conveyed that to me from as far as china, hawaii, europe, new zealand, thailand , bangladesh and so on (on second thought it does sound very satisfying that I am improving the life of people around the world :-)) . But, improving their life wasn’t my primary goal in life. Infact, their enthusiastic letters have helped me to keep painting despite the economy, encouraging me to keep my passion versus getting a “REAL” job. Reading further down the cultural bluprints email made me think that this was more a meeting ground for diferent organizations and executives to discuss “KEY ISSUES”.
The fourth invitation sent out in a week made me sit up and read inbetween the lines and realize there might be something in there for individual artists. It was free so I decided to test it out, planning to sneak out if it got too “executive”. Well, I stayed there the entire time and very reluctantly had to leave a few minutes before it wrapped up. It was very well organized with open forums and plenty of opportunity for the individual artist to speak out and understand their needs and concerns. There were plenty of good ideas and opportunity for the artist. So why wasn’t it marketed so. Would it have drawn out more artists if it was marketed as an opportunity for artist to meet, network, grow and inturn ofcourse, contribute to society. After all, artists are the pillars of any art organization, the building blocks. Could we individual artists have voiced ourselves louder if we were larger in number. Are art organizations caught up in bringing the art to the community and looking for art consumers at the expense of the artist? There were plenty of priorities voiced by everyone in the forums. However when time came to sum things up the issues concerning individual artists, with the exception of broadband availability, took low precedence versus the desire to educate the general public about arts which in turn was hoped to create an economic opportunity.