I spent an afternoon volunteering for the Aids Memorial
Quilt when it came to Boston.
I was awed by the tens of thousands of colorful quilt
squares, each commemorating someone who died of AIDS,
sewn with love and tears by those left behind. Stitched
together, the assembled quilt covered heartbreaking miles.
job, along with a dozen others all dressed in white, was
to watch out for disrupters, to hand people tissues, and
to offer emotional support if needed. The afternoon left
me deeply convinced of the power of art to serve the needs
of acommunity: in this case, to bring home to viewers
the mammoth proportions of human loss, to reach from the
heart past barriers of prejudice,
and to alert people to this dreaded disease in a way that
no treatise or expert research ever could.
do the arts serve social causes so explicitly. Nor
should they always. Sometimes souls need to be
nourished from the wells of creativity, imagination, and
expression in very personal and private ways. Literature,
theater, music, dance, painting, sculpture, and crafts
all have the power to make human beings more whole.
is a wholeness that I've been
drawn to all my life. As a child my friends and I put
on endless theater shows. In adolescence I poured my loneliness
into song and, into my twenties, I was passionately involved
with music and dance performance groups. Then I was introduced
to nonprofit causes that shook my world by communicating
the extent of human suffering and need. I soon turned
towards helping people (both poor and wealthy) on more
pragmatic levels, and there my time and attention has
remained for the ensuing decades.
beauty, and the arts still bring joy to me, but I wonder
how to judge their value when so many lives are threatened
by violence and poverty. How much time and money do I
invest in nurturing my spirit, versus more "practical"
goals, including helping to meet the basic needs of others?
I hear many of my friends wrestling with the same essential
questions, whether they are professional artists, community
organizers, or simply people who love long days in a museum,
write poems to loved ones, and read storybooks to children.
this issue of
More than Money
, we explore these
themes by asking questions of people with wealth who are
connected to the arts: "What role does art play in your
life? Do you experience any tensions in choosing how much
time and money you put into art compared to other things
you care about? Are there tensions in having wealth when
so many in the arts struggle to get by? How do you resolve
we listened, we were struck by dizzying contradictions
in how art is valued in our society. On one hand, it is
extolled as the highest pinnacle of civilization, while,
on the other, dismissed as incidental and elitist. A handful
of artists are celebrated and extravagantly paid (e.g.,
several movie stars now make $20 million per film),
while the diminishing public support for art means most
artists are not able to make a living in their chosen
professions. How can anyone develop a balanced approach
to art in the midst of all this?
aspirations for this issue are to legitimate these questions
and to offer options and inspiration to all people searching
to integrate their love of art with the other pulls on
their hearts, heads, and hands. We hope that artists and
art appreciators alike become emboldened to use their
wealth and talents to create a world where there are both
"bread" and "roses" for all.
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