Thursday, 15 December 2016

THE FUNDAMENTAL POINT OF CULTURE

ARTIST OR FINANCIER?
Recently, the Canadian government increased by 400% its funding for the arts, while arts funding in Australia and the UK continues to be slashed; this has led to a massive wave of joy and exuberant hope among the Canadian artists I know - musicians, composers, dancers, painters, poets, writers.... hope that in America we assume will not bear fruit in 2017, as Trump slashes cultural funding ever more.

Justin Trudeau gets culture, and I am proud he is our PM in Canada.

However, there is a different intensity of vision, which I have, and share no doubt with other practitioners of the creative arts and industries. It is this, simply this: Cultural and Creative production, activities, processes, projects are not just one other thing to do, not a hobby, a side-line, an option, but, actually - THE HIGHEST ENDEAVOUR OF THE HUMAN SPECIES.

Scientific and medical research is incredibly vital; religious meditation and conjecture equally so. But only the arts can fuse thought and feeling, knowledge and desire, hope and experience, in always-new forms - not as off-shoot expressions, or a way to kill a few hours.  The Arts make us more human.

Artists are often mad and bad - I am not saying they should rule or guide. But the fact of there being creativity is essential. It is my highest good to publish books, by others, and by myself.  Books change the world, as do films, albums, plays, ballets, operas, installations, happenings, games...

In a way alternative to actual war. Aleppo's disastrous fall reminds us that even after WWI, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and Vietnam, and Rwanda, and 9/11 - we do not learn easily. Science has not restrained the killing fields; religion has not halted the bloodshed. Politics has fanned flames. Creativity may not have fared any better, but few if any dancers, painters, poets, and musicians choose to become soldiers if other options lie open to them.

I am not naïve. But as we move to a jobless future, where most roles, including that of warrior, will be filled by a robot, humans will need to return to a recognition of the central vocation of teaching, nurturing, and exploring, creativity and creation - AS A GOOD IN AND OF ITSELF.

Only the Arts can fully contain truth and fiction, ugliness and beauty, in the same forms and formats - it is in fact the duality and complex ambiguity of the created thing, that it is real and a replica, that allows it to be so porous, flexible, and open to interpretation, and appreciation - enhancing its value endlessly.

Humanity has undervalued the natural and the created worlds, for the sake of the industrial-technological-financial; but the brute instruments must make way for the delicate instruments of making.
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