Thursday, September 16, 2010

Explaining Art and Culture as Being the 'Heart & Soul'

I stumbled into bed last night at around 2:30 with the knowledge that yesterday's post may not have been the best thing I've ever written. In my foggy daze of not quite sleep, I recognized that mostly had to do with the fact I decided to attempt to write about a fairly serious issue at an hour when such things should be left alone. I knew before I started typing at the dark hours of the barely starting day (or should it be the essentially over evening?), that I'd be better served to throw a cute kitty picture or evidence my dog thinks he is people or ramblings that need limited brain power. I also decided I've done enough of that over the last several weeks, and felt I wanted to talk about the Ford Plant while it was still relevant (ignore that a minimal amount of my regular readers actually live in Brantford and/or likely, confused it with the car company, which means it wasn't a pressing issue for most anyway). I tossed about some words, and considering what a tiring day it had been, I felt I produced something of mild acceptability. For me the big issue is that in my brain mush state, I wasn't able to properly explain what I meant about art and culture being the 'heart & soul' of a city. Of course, if you already agreed with me then I'm sure my article was enough to lightly nod your head to, but I doubt it was very convincing for one who may see art and culture as frivolous or something that isn't crucial.

I understand that industry and business and politics all play a very crucial part in a city or community, and without them, you are likely left with 45 yahoos running about in their skivvies while waving about a flaming weed whacker in an attempt to defend their luxurious cardboard hovels. I also believe that history or even a simple game of word association would prove that art and culture are a significant part of any city or community or civilization, and so it should be protected as much as possible. For example, if I ask you to mention key things you associate with the 60s or the 70s or any era then I am fairly confident -- that while you will mention key historical moments -- you will also mention things like the fashion, music, literature, films, fads and so forth (all things you'd link to an era's culture and arts). If you look back at any of the major empires throughout history, there is a strong chance you'll also reflect upon some things that are linked to art and culture, such as their architecture, rituals, paintings, statues, plays, myths, and so on. It is often the things we link with art and culture that ended up giving the identity to an era or empire or civilization. I am not saying it is the only thing, but is most often a key thing.

Art and culture is not only a way to identify a community (by making it distinct), but it is a way that allows its member and citizens to constructively express themselves and also allow for a deeper connection among each other. I know I said a similar thing with last night's article, but let me explain exactly what I mean by this. One of the powers of arts of any kind is that it is a creative outlet for an individual, and allows for this person to express emotions or passions or feelings or beliefs that may be welling up inside of them. I know personally, I find writing in any form to be an effective way for me to be able to deconstruct thoughts or feelings that are nagging me. I find creative writing of all types is very soothing, calming and therapeutic experiences for me. I am not saying it is always that way, and people can do art for many reasons. The fact is that art is one of the most powerful forms of expression and being able to get a view across. The best part of art, is that it's naturally creative form allows it to resonate and connect with numerous people. These people often are not necessarily of the same background or belief system or religion or whatever. Sometimes a painting or song or poem or story can connect with the viewer/listener/reader in such a deep and profound way, even though their interpretation is incredibly different from what the creator originally meant. For me, that is one of the things that makes art so beautiful and powerful. The same piece or production can mean something different to each person, but it still causes each person who experiences it to be connected in some way.

This is why I feel art and culture is so important. This is why I believe it to be the heart and soul of a city or community. It gives us an identity, but it also helps connect all of us in some way or fashion. This is why I think Brantford, and every other city, should not perceive art and culture as a secondary or a superfluous thing. Art and culture is something that must be cherished and protected, because it is our heart and soul.

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