Happy New Year!
The start of a new year is a time not only of celebration, but also reflection. This year, Americans for the Arts is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, so we’re spending a lot of time thinking about how the arts in America have been shaped during the last half century, as well as how the arts have shaped ourselves.
We invite you to celebrate with us by sharing a formative or inspirational arts moment from your own life.
Together, we can create a powerful reminder that, no matter what the future holds, the arts are an essential part of all our lives and deserving of our collective hard work and investment.
We wish you the very best in 2010!
Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts
I work to advance the arts in people’s lives because I know that it makes their lives and the life of our towns and nation better. I know that, because a teacher in the eighth grade gave me the gift of believing that I could make poetry, because my parents gave me the gift of music making which still sustains me every day, and a single moment in a movie taught me that I was a part of a universe and not its center. I thank all the people who pass these gifts on to others.
Steve Spiess, Executive Director, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Chairman of the Americans for the Arts Board of Directors
It seems like the arts have always been a part of my life. Since childhood, I have been blessed with wonderful memories of music and theatre and dance and the visual arts. And I have been able to travel to other parts of the world to experience many different cultures. But, my most memorable arts experience is one of my most recent, and is easy to name. It is seeing the joy in my 17-month old son Joshua’s eyes as he dances to, and sings along with, the music that we have played for him since before he was born. Or the way that he runs to show me the crayon masterpiece that he created while I was at work. These special moments make everything right in my world, give me hope that he will be a bright light in his future world and demonstrate the power of the arts to make our lives whole.
Chuck Close, artist
Americans for the Arts Artists Committee Member
Arts saved my life from the very beginning of my life. Learning disabled, couldn’t add or subtract, couldn’t learn to multiply or divide. If it hadn’t been for art, where would I be? If I hadn’t had art and music as a guaranteed right from kindergarten through high school, every day of the week, I would’ve never found myself, I would never have done anything. And I worry so about how art and music are the first things to be cut, the first thing to go when there’s a budget cut in education. Because without it, I always say if I hadn’t gone to Yale, I would’ve gone to jail. You don’t get where you get without interacting with people who’ve changed your life. Amazing, amazing people. I came from a mill town. Nobody ever went anywhere or accomplished anything. I had people who believed in me from the beginning to the end.
Donna Collins, Executive Director, Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts Education Council Chair
In first grade I was chosen to be Little Yellow in the school play adapted from Leo Lionni’s book Little Blue Little Yellow. I learned that I was a good reader and loved colors. I learned about the boy who played Little Blue and figured out that we could be actors in the play but I didn’t have to like him. I learned about how to take direction and when to offer direction. I learned that it was my job to know my lines, study, and have fun. I also realized how wonderful it was to hear the applause of the audience and see the pride in my parents’ faces. Today I realize that this opportunity provided to me by my first grade teacher started my interest in the arts.
Ken Ferguson, Chairman, NBC Oklahoma
Americans for the Arts Board of Directors Treasurer
I’m a banker in Oklahoma and have come to realize the importance of arts in terms of economic development and what it means to my town and my state and even nationally. And so my favorite art form is public art. Our bank has sponsored six or seven pieces of public art and I just love it when people will stop and park their car and all the little kids get out and run around the piece of art and take a snapshot of it. You don’t have to pay a dollar, you don’t have to put a coat and tie on, you just get to go and enjoy the art.
Janet Kagan, Principal, Percent for Art Collaborative, Chapel Hill, NC
Public Art Network Council Chair
One of my first art making experiences was spending the entire year of second grade working with glass, clay, and wire. I recall consciously abandoning reading and writing for the sensuous pleasure of feeling these materials in my hands and pressing my eyes and body into the service of creating color and form. Although much later I would learn the beauty of producing a poem, I suspect that this time in the art room served as a prelude to my inherent interest in attending to art and its complexities.
Peter Yarrow, singer/songwriter of Peter, Paul & Mary
Americans for the Arts Artists Committee Member
What I’m thinking about as I stand here in the moment of recalling Mary’s passing, Mary Travers, I think about how much she epitomized exactly what Americans for the Arts advocates, what its commitment is all about. The signature of a civilization is told through its arts, but even more so, the humanity of a people, the soundtrack of their hopes and dreams, and the images of their aspirations.
Bruce Davis, Executive Director of Arts Council Silicon Valley, San Jose, CA
NAMP Conference Attendee
It was around the campfire and it was folksingers and people singing songs around the campfire. One of whom turns out to have been Pete Seeger. I grew up in New York, we were up in the Catskill Mountains at a bungalow colony for the summer and Pete also used to go to that bungalow colony. I became a folk singer. I went on the artist roster as a singer/songwriter in Brooklyn in 1975 and then I migrated out to California where I’ve been for more than 30 years and now I run the arts council in Silicon Valley and it all goes back to those songs when I was 3 or 4 around the campfire.