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Where do we go from here?

An article about performing-Arts and music-related topic

By Ralph Schatzki

for La CoffeeMelodie Suite

  • Where do we go from here?

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    So, the economy is in a recession, and arts funding is being cut or even eliminated. Opera companies and symphonies are filing for bankruptcy, and the public loses more and more of its cultural treasures every day.

    Hardest hit, in a way, are the performers themselves. Audiences move on and organizations disappear or restructure, but artists and musicians still have to survive, both financially and spiritually. With so many outlets becoming unavailable, though, what are they to do?

    If live musical performances were more valued, of course, the problem would be less acute. The movie industry is hardly in financial straits, simply because the cinema is so well-entrenched in society. Television appears to be here for the long haul, as well.

    Unfortunately, live performance doesn't have the cultural foothold that cinema or television do. Part of this is due to other economic realities. (Movies and television programs are mass-marketed, and all one needs is a way to play them in order to enjoy. Live performances are- well- of course, live, and require the actual performers to be present!)

    Yet, there are still - and always have been - local performing arts groups that satisfy a community's hunger for the excitement that only live performance can bring; although even these, too, are now feeling the pinch of tightening purse strings. But while the larger of these entities- symphonies and opera companies- may or may not be able to survive, it is the perfect opportunity for smaller organizations and individuals to fill the void.

    New times call for new methods, however, so no one should expect "business as usual." Novel approaches and cost-cutting will be the norm, and those who are content to sit back and play the game the old way will not be at all successful; especially considering that those ways are what got us to where we are today.

    Still, I am guardedly optimistic that a new generation of art lovers will be born from this economic crisis, for the necessity that will motivate diligent artists will prompt them to reach out to any group they can, to demonstrate in ever-more intimate, and therefore effective, fashion the unique power that live performance can bring. It is now up to the artists to carry out this important mission.

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