Arts As Communal Endeavor
November 11, 2007
I think there might
be something to the idea of musicians thinking more about how they serve their
There is an awful
lot of grandezza surrounding classical music.
This problem is compounded in the States by our elite funding system
focused on the wealthy. The public
funding of the arts in
creates a different environment. Outside
of a few private organizations like
and the Salzburg Festival, the patrician rituals of the wealthy at concerts and
operas are far less notable. And
the demographic of the publics are much wider, because tickets are far cheaper
than in the States. In
, everybody goes to the opera, right down to the cab drivers and auto mechanics.
(They all know the operas practically by heart, and even shout at the
singers if they hear something they donít agree with.)
things are happening in
in this regard. A large financial
institution gave the orchestra a huge donation so that all tickets for the next
season cost only $25. There were
huge lines when the box office opened that included a lot of people who had
never been to an orchestra concert before. In
a completely spontaneous gesture, the orchestraís new GMD, Marin Alsop, went
out and served donuts to the people in line.
It was written about in the papers, and the city was completely won over.
It became THEIR orchestra.
There are a lot of
reasons this was notable, but perhaps one of the most important is that
Baltimore is 80% black and the orchestra is 98% white.
We need to change the whole structure of our music world to better reach
our communities. We need to examine
classical musicís traditional attitude of aristocratic grandezza.
And we should leave behind our patrician form of funding that hearkens
back to feudalism, and let people build and identify with their own local
cultural through an effective, locally operated system of arts funding.