Recently a cable television newscaster wielded his blackboard and chalk to chasten four American cities for their support of public arts such as museums and opera–likening public art projects to Mountain Dew and Cheetos.
Would it be the Arizona Capitol Museum, where my young children first learned how ideas evolve into legislation that becomes law?
Would it be the Heard Museum, where my children learned about cultures of the Southwest that thrived long before Arizona gained statehood?
Would it be the Musical Instrument Museum, where my grown children can now get a glimpse of how music shapes identity and builds bridges between people for whom it may be the only common language?
Would it be the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, with its many opportunities for youth to find and express their individuality outside of sex, drugs or violence?
Should we do away with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum so our country can invest the money in other causes?
And what of other arts–such as opera, ballet, poetry, film or sculpture?
Should families who enjoy the arts together stay at home instead armed with remote control or joystick?
Should the theater and dance companies, the symphonies and the galleries, who employ all those artists, costumers, musicians, set builders and the like simply shut down, leaving artists unemployed and governments without the tax revenues and other benefits these organizations provide?
Today, in a television studio far removed from the arts and culture that has fueled so much of America’s progress, a man still toys with his blackboard and chalk.
I can only hope that elsewhere there are artists working their magic with soft drink containers and puffy cheese snacks…
Note: There’s another museum our country desperately needs–a museum dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of the world’s many religious and world views. For the wisdom of the ages is far too expansive to be contained on a single chalkboard.
Coming up: “Curious George” escapes Nazi Germany, More musings on art and civics