To Hell in a Handbasket

Has the economy hit rock bottom yet?
Has the economy hit rock bottom?

Get that feeling that the economy was just starting to chug forward slowly but now the United States is in a holding pattern slowly loosing steam?  It feels like the economy is running with cement blocks instead of tennis shoes. With an increase in panic emails from artists on how to survive, what does the uncertain future hold?

The bubble, hope, or dream of a stable economy has officially burst into a new reality. Only time will know for sure but there has to be some positive news out there…right?  Unfortunately, I spoke to soon.  In case you had no access to television, radio, civilization, or on a mental hiatus, the stock market fell 513 points on August 4th. The icing on the cake appears that America’s credit rating has been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s from AAA to AA.

This recession/depression is not going away anytime soon.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride for the long haul. For artists, we know that art is considered to be at the bottom of the budget barrel of priorities.  According to The New York Times: “Many states faced the same budget decisions this spring. In Wisconsin, for example, Milwaukee had to decide whether to go forward with a $775,000 sculpture outside the county courthouse that was to be partially financed with state funds that were reduced.”

At face value, it would appear frivolous to spend $775,000 for a sculpture.  However, let’s break down the cost on how it really helps the community.  The artist or team awarded the $775,000 doesn’t walk away with straight profit.  The awarded money goes to contractors, designers, materials, delivery, installation, and the leftovers go to the artist.  As a result, the money stays in the community and it’s not shipped overseas.

Without any type of creativity how will this economy turnaround?  The San Francisco area is home to companies like Pixar, Google, Lucas Arts, Twitter, Facebook, Dreamworks Animation, YouTube, Yahoo, and many more.  These companies would fail without creativity.  In fact, originality keeps them competitive and open for business.

Even during hard economic times, investment in the arts must continue.  Peter Sellars, American Theater director, poses the argument that the arts should be compared and treated the same way as sports.  With practice an athlete improves and in art the more refined, defined, and inspired you become.  Imagination is key to finding a way out of this economic nightmare.

My concern is future American generations that can’t think creatively in order to solve problems will lack exposure to different perspectives of thinking.  Everything becomes black and white, yes and no, and lacking any shades of grey or compromise.  For that reason alone, I’ll keep pushing forward as an artist.

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