I have been thinking a lot lately about how we have let various industries control our lives. Now the economy is crumbling, but the old economy which destroys the environment, treats people like disposable slaves and reaps a profit through sheer madness for only a handful of elites was not healthy for any of us. And certainly the planet and its other inhabitants have suffered enough under the weight of the old economy. Time to let it go and embrace the new.
It's true that the arts are suffering because of the tight-wallet syndrome. Many people consider art a non-essential, but what if we as artists treated this era as a time of community building? I am suggesting that people not run out and buy those high definition televisions, but instead turn off the television sets, forget all those computer games and gadgets, including the iPod which just isolates people from one another. Get out of the house, go to a concert, a live storytelling event or even a book signing at a bookstore. Support the musicians playing in cafes and pubs. Take the family out to arts events geared for the entire family. Get out, find out who is in your community and network. And if you are a parent, teach your children about the arts. Go to the library and check out recordings and DVDs of the arts and expose both yourself and your children to the arts.
We are embarking on a new era in which the arts (fine and performing), can be part of something larger than each of us. As a community of artists, we can brainstorm in ways to use our crafts and talent to heal communities, create opportunities for youth and adults, create buy-local incentives, create fair trade artists coops through micro credit (this is not just for developing countries), and we can combine art with green technologies, organic farming, and other sustainable practices.
Creative people are ahead of the game because we already know how to barter and trade, how to use our resources wisely and how to live simple lives. We already know how to amuse ourselves with little, see beauty where others don't and to deeply feel everything because that is how we create in the first place. We know about healing wounds through our creative pursuits and some of us are deeply spiritual feeling like we are merely vessels that the Divine does her work.
So as artists, let us find ways to join together. And for the others who think they lack artistic abilities, remove the iPods from your ears and start relating to the rest of the world. Take an inexpensive art class or pick up a used copy of Julie Cameron's The Artist's Way and do the exercises. Turn off the TV, stop wasting your time playing violent computer games and join humanity in transforming this planet back to its original glorious state. And while you are at it, sing, hum, play, dance and learn a musical instrument... If anything you will feel inspired to move beyond your little self and be part of the bigger picture.