Sup­port for the Artis­tic World

Ex­plor­ing the sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship be­tween the arts and so­ci­ety

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Per­haps you have re­cently read a good novel, watched a ter­rific film or lis­tened to great mu­sic at a con­cert. Maybe you vis­ited a mu­seum or made a pur­chase from a lo­cal artist. Pos­si­bly you are study­ing an in­stru­ment or are en­rolled in a cre­ative arts class. We know that the arts in gen­eral pos­sess the po­ten­tial to trans­port us from our ev­ery­day lives into other realms—en­gag­ing our imag­i­na­tions, invit­ing con­tem­pla­tion and even pro­vid­ing pro­found, life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. Each time we avail our­selves of the arts there is, of course, the ex­pec­ta­tion that some­thing valu­able will be given back in terms of sup­port; hence the tick­ets we pur­chase to visit venues or at­tend events and the prices that artists ask for their work.

This is one as­pect of the sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship be­tween arts and so­ci­ety. Just as hu­man be­ings need the arts to thrive, artists de­pend upon their fel­low hu­mans to sur­vive.

The pa­tron­age model that ex­isted for cen­turies al­lowed a rel­a­tively small num­ber of for­tu­nate artists to pur­sue their work with the back­ing and bless­ing of kings and queens, mem­bers of the aris­toc­racy or other priv­i­leged mem­bers of so­ci­ety. This also meant poor prospects for ac­cess to the arts by those who were not so priv­i­leged, and a pre­car­i­ous ex­is­tence for artists be­cause they re­mained sub­ject to the whims of the rich and pow­er­ful.

While ves­tiges of this model per­sist (with wealthy phi­lan­thro- pists and donors as­sum­ing sim­i­lar roles to those once played by the aris­toc­racy), the arts to­day have be­come largely de­moc­ra­tized in terms of ac­cess and par­tic­i­pa­tion, so that ev­ery­one has the abil­ity to make his or her con­tri­bu­tion. The artist no longer has to rely solely on a rich pa­tron to ex­ist, but rather can cul­ti­vate re­cip­ro­cal re­la­tion­ships with a sat­is­fied clien­tele.

In to­day’s sat­u­rated mar­ket there is an em­bar­rass­ment of artis­tic riches avail­able, and thus there are in­nu­mer­able ways to of­fer sup­port for the arts. This is both ex­cit­ing and daunt­ing at the same time, as there are so many de­serv­ing artists and or­ga­ni­za­tions wor­thy of at­ten­tion.

But as we con­sider where to lend our sup­port, we tend to dis­cover more about what moves and mo­ti­vates us, learn­ing more about our­selves and our life’s pri­or­i­ties in the process. When

In to­day’s sat­u­rated mar­ket there are an em­bar­rass­ment of artis­tic riches avail­able, and thus there are in­nu­mer­able ways to of­fer sup­port for the arts.

ev­ery­body par­tic­i­pates, the arts flour­ish and the qual­ity of our in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive lives is im­mea­sur­ably im­proved—a win-win sit­u­a­tion.

And how might all of us, as mod­ern-day pa­trons of the arts, pro­vide the sup­port that is so needed and ap­pre­ci­ated? Per­haps from the com­fort of our homes, do­nat­ing to one or more crowd­fund­ing projects re­searched on­line, or pur­chas­ing hand­made items by in­de­pen­dent artists from web­sites such as art­fire.com.

Or maybe tak­ing a mo­ment to leave valu­able feed­back for artists whose works we have ap­pre­ci­ated, or declar­ing our en­thu­si­asm for an up­com­ing per­for­mance on so­cial me­dia. Or pos­si­bly ush­er­ing tonight’s con­cert as a vol­un­teer or head­ing to a lo­cal art fair. Or writ­ing a check that will make all the dif­fer­ence in an artist’s life—just as that artist has made a dif­fer­ence in yours.

Pi­anist, in­struc­tor and mu­si­col­o­gist Erik En­twistle re­ceived an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in mu­sic from Dart­mouth Col­lege. He earned a post-grad­u­ate de­gree in pi­ano per­for­mance at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St. Louis. He earned his doc­tor­ate in mu­si­col­ogy at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Santa Bar­bara. He teaches on Sani­bel Is­land.

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