March 5, 2009

We Work Hard for Our Money

In Obama's stimulus bill there is $50 million portion going to the National Endowment for the Arts. Gov. Bobby Jindal says that's wasteful spending, that the $50 million needs to go to the private sector to create jobs. I don't know what he means by the private sector and I don't understand why he fails to recognize why the arts are a viable employer. His statement is ignorant and judgemental.

When my parents asked me what I thought I wanted to study in college I unabashedly said theatre. I didn't say acting, I said theatre. Even when I was in high school I understood the numerous professions that were available to me in the arts. My best friend at the time was an incredibly talented graphic artist, still is, so I knew of the possibilities in graphic art. I was also a choir geek so I knew of the possibilities in music. In college I learned about dance troupes, the culinary arts, photography and writing. There are endless ways people can make a working living in the arts. But when I told my parents "theatre" my father's whole body sagged as he sighed in futility. They just assumed I was going to live in a cardboard box and never be able to provide for myself. Over the years my mother pushed me to get a teaching degree so I "would have something to fall back on." I told her over and over again that I wasn't called to be a teacher and that wouldn't be fair to my students. She and my father finally gave up and let me pursue my aspirations.

While in college I found I wanted to work in not-for-profit theatre (something that exists almost completely thanks to NEA grants back in the 1960s.) When I met Mike's dad he asked me how I would get paid in non-profit work. It's an explanation I've made many times over- non-profit means that any proceeds go right back into the operation budget and not into the pockets of investors. Broadway is for profit- that's why it costs so much to see a play on the Great White Way. I find non-profit work much, much more interesting. It's smaller and can be more intimate for the actors and audience members. I feel like non-profit theatres are more of a community unifier. They offer community outreach and education. And I'm all about arts outreach and education. So I'm pursuing a career in non-profit arts.

The fact that so many people fail to realize that the arts is a viable career is frustrating. I feel I should be angry but I'm not. People just don't think about it. All the ads you see on television- the music, graphics, acting, the words they say, costumes, make-up- are all created by people with careers based in the arts. These people may not walk around saying, I make movies, or I make drawings or I play make-believe. But they are walking around trying to provide for their families in work they find fulfilling and rewarding. Isn't that something everyone wants? So don't be critical when funding is made available for these people to find work and take care of themselves. Just because they don't put on a suit everyday and have a B.S. in b-s doesn't mean their line of work is worth less than yours. So Jindal, and your fellow party members, get your head out of your ass.

1 comment:

Tina said...

here, here!