Instead of "Hey, orange drink," vendors
Will say, "get your souvenir posters of the ballet."
--Ron and Russell Mael, from "Simple Ballet"
Our local cable access channel featured the Allen Symphony Orchestra playing a Tchaikovsky piece last night. Allen's population is only something like 40,000, so I was surprised to hear a competent symphony, as opposed to, say, a nice chamber quartet. It was very nicely done.
I still wonder sometimes, though, why the public "arts" run down fairly predictable lines. I don't mean to criticize people's tastes at all--I like classical music, so I'd certainly not criticize folks who want to make it. But "public art" tends to mean such a limited number of things. It's as though it's not really "art" unless one can spend $ 125 for a season ticket, or attend an exhibition in a tuxedo.
Our area cities are discussing an "arts district" now, in which a joint performance hall will be built at the cost of millions of dollars to permit "the arts" to be "done right". This usually translates into a theater which can host "community theater" and "subscription season" type arts events. There may even be space for an upscale restaurant and a coffee shop. I'm not against this type of thing, of course, but I do imagine what could be done if a sum equal to the interest on the money it will take as my city's part of the "arts district" were just injected directly into helping people make art. We could have more public art displays, we could have more of those bands which appear in our parks during the summer, and we could maybe even spawn a community of "real artists" instead of a community of people who watch the musical "Oklahoma" whever a road show featuring a figure skater or star of a cancelled TV show comes into town (I love Rodgers and Hammerstein, by the way, so I'm not being elitist here).
We might even teach kids to draw and dream. Corporate heads could set aside their Sunday formal dress and learn to do spin art and fingerpainting. Old homes could be picked up for relatively nothing, and converted into little civic museums and art spaces.
It's really almost a civic commercial proposition--should a city support Marketable Art, or should a city support good old plain folk art? I am not at all really an Art person, marketable or otherwise, but it's an easy question for me--because more people will have more fun if we support more of the "little arts" and less Art. What good is a city if it isn't funding police, roads, schools or Fun?