Sunday, June 11, 2017

Intersections and the Arts

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on........................"

Everywhere you look, we are consumed with the realities and possibilities of varying intersections of the arts with other specific fields: arts and the economy, arts and social justice, arts and healing, and the military, and placemaking, and community engagement, and entrepreneurship and on and on.  Then too there are the intersections of the arts with other disciplines including arts and science, arts and technology, arts and medicine.  Indeed, we might well argue that there is virtually no area that doesn't intersect with the arts, and we firmly believe the arts play a role in nearly every area by bringing value, support, ideas and creativity to each.

In part, this policy of promoting relationships with other fields and interest areas stems from our strategy that our alliances with other sectors is a way for us to advance our interests and our agendas, and demonstrate our value over and apart from the intrinsic value of the arts.  And while those who decry that too much emphasis is placed on the value of the arts as a handmaiden to other values, and perhaps not enough emphasis on what the arts do for individuals, communities and society by just being the arts, the advance of the promotion and involvement of the arts where they intersect with other areas, and where they spur partnerships, is a genie not likely easily put back in the jar.

But all intersections are not the same, and we tend to ignore that fact.  We're in favor of exploring intersections, but haven't devoted energy or resources to understanding how intersections work in general, or in specific cases.  Some intersections are of two equal, major thoroughfares.  But most arts intersections are with forces and structures that dwarf (even if only in their own thinking) the arts.  Rather than as two major highways, the arts are still often seen as (and in reality often actually are)  minor intersection avenues and roads. The arts, and the proposition that they validly and meaningfully  intersect with other areas, in many such cases are almost afterthoughts to the area with which we seek to intersect.  To be sure, we have made inroads in being treated more equally, in having a more respected and vocal presence at a number of intersections, but not everywhere.  While in many cases, the arts intersections are well established and respected, in many other cases we are still at the stage of convincing the "other" area with which we intersect, to see us as we see ourselves - bringing much to the table, and worthy of being seen as not just a contributor, but as worthy of support ourselves for what we bring.

Because there are now so many arts intersections being explored, supported and nurtured (at least by us), it would be wise to take a look at the whole area of intersections, and specifically arts intersections and to try to develop some tools to analyze (or at least consider) each one - first on a case by case basis to determine our relative strength in the potential relationship, what obstacles we face, what opportunities await us, and, generally, what we need to do, and to demand, in order for us to effectively move forward; and second, while each arts intersection is different, there are common elements to all and we can learn from the whole of our effort to pursue meaningful intersections so we might be better at the effort in the longer term.  Our progress in any number of intersections that are already along the continuum has yielded us results and data and experiences that can help us with both existing intersections, and those still embryonic or yet to be opened.  And we have research on some of those intersections. But more would help us to answer two fundamental questions:   What have we already learned and how can we apply it?  And what might we still learn about the phenomenon of how intersections (best) work?

The whole idea of the arts intersecting across virtually every field and every interest area is so pervasive, widespread and endorsed, that it deserves special attention as a whole subject matter on its own, apart from each individual application.  It is an area that would benefit greatly from more data, more analysis and more consideration as it own phenomenon, so we can have some continuity across these various intersections, and have the best chance of success in each one.  So while we rush to embrace intersections and make them work, we should, I think, spend more time trying to understand intersections as a phenomenon and how they work; more time in consideration of both the art and science of these specific kinds of arts intersections.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit