But, Seriously Folks…
I have such mixed feelings about last night’s Mayoral Forum, co-sponsored by One Percent for Culture, Teacher’s College and Young Audiences New York. Don’t get me wrong – I am very glad it happened. I am extremely proud of our communities for coming together and packing the house. It was an important first step in flexing our political muscle. But it was a timid, baby step.
It was an evening filled with quite gentle loving obscenely brutal disregard. One after another, the candidates, for the most part, burbled about the importance of art, trying to convince us they get it, citing their own indelible encounters with the arts as schoolchildren. And then one by one, for the most part, they “got real” with us and refused to commit to 1% of the City’s expense budget being set aside for the arts. And we all applauded politely when they finished. It was all so predictable. And we are so used to it. And it is nonsense.
The arts and arts education are critically important and yet the funding statistics revealed last night were shocking. No other municipal asset is so under-resourced and overworked. It was interesting to watch Leonard Lopate get increasingly flummoxed by the near unanimity of the response from the candidates that 1% for culture is a pie in the sky or, at best, far-away “aspirational hope.” Welcome to our world, Mr. Lopate.
But the question is, what are we going to do about this? We are now caught in a conundrum. We got all of the major candidates out to a forum on cultural funding and we packed the house and yet, we are basically in the same place as if we hadn’t done anything. Almost all of the politicians felt perfectly comfortable framing our request as obviously unrealistic and undoable. Evening over. No outrage. Not even, except for Mr. Lopate, any indignity expressed. One Percent for Culture has over 500 partner organizations. Did we all join because we figured it wouldn’t mean much anyway? What are we going to Do about this?
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