It is a bit hard to believe this week, since at the moment the sun is shining and we are having a week of those clear, sunny, cold, days that remind me of growing up on the east coast.
But the days are getting shorter and some days, when the fog surrounds me in my house, and it never seems to quite get to be…you know…daylight, I can sink into a reciprocal gloom to match. That’s when it’s most important for me to head for the studio and dive in to a world of my own making. The world of painting, or maybe drawing pandas. When it’s a panda or perish kind of day, there is no time left to lose.
Stay tuned for the coming rant…
But now, activities like music and theater and visual arts are disappearing from public schools around the country. I know, I know. Budgets….Sinking tax revenues, so-called best use of available funds, are deep-sixing creative arts programs at a time when we need them more than ever. I don’t know of a time when they were not needed, but it seems to me that the current level of anxiety and uncertainty that is pervading our country, manifests a need for the solace that art can bring, to those searching for redemption.
I used to have a newspaper clipping on my refrigerator, where it stayed until it finally fell off in tatters. I can’t recite it verbatim, but it was a story about how some MBA (Masters of Business Administration) programs were now requiring a certain number of visual arts classes as a requirement to get your MBA. Their premise was pretty simple and very profound.
Art is not math.
In the visual arts, you need to be able to find multiple potential solutions to a problem. There is no formula that will answer the question you are trying to solve. And it is that search for a creative solution that business programs were attempting to harness. In other word, those conversant in the arts were more likely to come up with unlikely creative solutions.
To be truthful, I never followed up to see if this was merely the great idea of the month, or whether creativity continues to be a sought after commodity in the business world. An economist named Richard Florida wrote a book called The Creative Economy some years back, positing the idea that the existence of cultural institutions, rather than say, a major sports team franchise, was a better predictor of economic vitality for a city or region. In other words, if you want to find smart employees, put your business in a city with an opera or art museum, preferably both.
Sometimes it comes from the community. Along with the existing opportunities, which often have a hefty price tag attached, (this is not a criticism. Those sharing their knowledge and time in the arts need to get paid just as much as the person servicing your car,) there is a new program starting this month brought to you by the Whidbey Island Arts Council.
It is a three day art program for students aged 9 to 14, December 20, 21, and 22. Each day there will be a different teacher, who is an arts professional living in the Whidbey community. Supported by grants and donations, the program is free for the students to attend and the teaching artists will be paid. This is a wonderful gift to the community. If you would like to give less stuff for the coming holidays, consider making a donation to this program, which might just start the next young Whidbey artist on the creative adventure of a lifetime.
And if you know of a young person who might enjoy or benefit from these classes, please contact the WIAC via the information below. As someone who felt like my life was saved by my early art experiences, I can’t recommend this kind of program enough.
No matter what holidays you celebrate, I wish you all the possible joy of the season.
Free Holiday Arts Classes for children ages 9-14