Last Sunday, over Manhattan, I launched an aerial campaign using a fleet of synchronized skywriting jets, with messages calling on the public to “defend the arts.” This was a direct response to Mitt Romney’s promise, once elected, to cuts art funding in half and fully eliminate subsidies for PBS and the National Endowments for the Arts.
I believe we need more art in society and not less. We need to support the arts as much as possible on all levels, from government funding all the way down to the grassroots levels. With the skywriting, I wanted to create a rally cry. I did it over New York City, because it’s the art center of the world. There were messages like #defendthearts #romneyhatesart #artisinspiration #artcreatesjobs #GOPfail and then I felt good putting Occupy Wall Street over Zuccotti Park. After it was done, the conversation continued on Twitter and Instagram, as an extension of what was written in the sky.
When I see politicians and policies that write the arts off as a nuisance or a budgetary cancer, I find that completely offensive. When I go to other countries, arts are at the forefront. Arts are considered a first, and here they’re thought of last.
These politicians aren’t recognizing that creative industries are the second largest exports for the U.S. There are 4.1 million jobs in this industry. Any funding that comes to the arts has a trickle down effect. For every artist there is an entire ecosystem around him or her. I’m looking at the blue-collar worker who shows up in the truck who needs to crate the painting and ship it. Those are the jobs that help generate this entire industry. We should all come together as like minds to defend the arts and make sure the arts are perpetuated in school and celebrated in this country. As like-minded-thinkers we are a powerful force to be reckoned with.
When Mitt Romney said he was going to cut funding for the arts, I thought how do you quantify the inspiration that creative projects will cause? How do you quantify inspiration? How is that even possible?
We need to acknowledge that arts are vital to society and for future generations. The minute a kid picks up a crayon and takes it to a wall, that child is now exercising one of the most important parts of their brain and their heart. We need more of that. It’s inspiration that got me to do what I did and now my main focus is the youngsters and public schools, the people after me.
So my main message is: defend the arts where you live, where you practice, where you work. Continue to make art at a grassroots level, dance more, make more music, support theaters, paint a mural, support actors, and support the people that are inspiring us. For everyone that gets uninspired because of the challenges you face, keep remembering that when you’re doing something you love that is the music, and not something that everyone has the opportunity to do.
Take action to defend the arts here.