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The Magic of the Arts

by Larry E. Clausen, Chair, Alberta Ballet

 

It is so easy to take the arts for granted. Every time we turn on the radio, watch a movie or television, read a magazine, buy clothes, purchase a home and the multitude of others things we do – there is an artist behind it.

We have come to know artists as recording and television stars, designers, architects, crafts persons, writers, dancers, musicians, actors, and photographers, to name just a few. Even the phones and laptops that we work on daily have a host of artists supporting the design and content of the information we use.

Measuring Value Beyond Applause

It is easy to take for granted that these artists will be always be there. But this simply isn’t a given. While appreciating and applauding their skills is important, we have to acknowledge that there is value to their work and to pay for it.

When we buy merchandise, we don’t pay a direct fee for the artist or designer behind the product – but this is included in the price.

It is generally known that when streaming music and movies, a royalty is paid to an artist. It’s a shame some people try to steal these products and not pay the people behind the production. If everyone did this, we would simply not have the great entertainment we enjoy today.

Graphic artists are sought for many design assignments. From an ad to an app – a designer is earning a living. And the artist that creates sculptures and paintings economically gains when they sell their works.

As a society, we understand the artistic contributions to our lifestyle must be supported by financial means. What we don’t think of often is that this happens through a variety of ways – some very indirectly.

Keeping Performance Arts Accessible to all Albertans

One set of artists that are often overlooked for the value they contribute is the performing arts – namely opera, orchestra, theatre and dance. Often run by a not-for-profit organization, government grants and ticket sales do not typically generate sufficient support for their operations, especially as organizations strive to keep performance accessible to all Albertans. These groups are innovative at running fundraisers which partially fill the funding needs but not all of it. A funding deficit remains.

Individual donations and corporate sponsorships are essential if the arts are going to thrive. But the competition for support is growing daily.

Why should we support the arts? They are an essential ingredient to a vibrant and world-class community. They are economic generators as well as a contributing factor to overall quality of life. Without them, cities like ours would have difficulty attracting businesses or creative individuals.

Of all the artists I know, the performing artists work the hardest. Some say they are a luxury, out-of-date for the tastes of today’s society and should no longer exist. And yet a vibrant arts community is a trait that virtually every world-class city can boast. New York, Paris, London, Toronto – all thriving cities and all artistic hubs.

True, performing arts is not for everyone. But then, neither is popular music. Both are equally important to our society.

A Relevant Connection Adds Richness to a Community

It is time to change how we fund our performing arts. They are valuable to the richness and healthfulness of our communities and government at all levels must increase the funding support they provide.

At the same time, performing arts groups must be sure they are relevant to their communities and performing what people want to see. The day of “educating” an audience with obscure presentations will not preserve any of these precious art forms.

So the magic of the arts is an essential ingredient to society. And while it comes to us in many forms, all of them have intrinsic value to our city and our quality of life.

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Alberta Ballet is a registered charity.
Charitable Registration Number: 118780378 RR0001