This fall, I had the opportunity to visit one of the biggest museums on earth, the Louvre. One of the pieces that made great impact on me was the collection of sarcophagi from ancient Egypt (see picture).
As I examined each piece, I thought about all the knowledge humankind has gained because of these works of art. If there was no art – no sculptures left, no pyramids, no paintings and carvings on walls and burial grounds – our knowledge about the Egyptian civilization would be very limited.
The Egyptian sarcophagi as well as the countless artworks in the Louvre are great examples of the power of art in the formation and documentation of culture. Take the Italian paintings of the 16th century (see picture below). By looking at just a few pieces, you’ll have an accurate idea about the important role religion played in the social and political spheres of that period.
Like history books, art can lead us to discover our ancestors’ customs, political tensions, moral values, beliefs, societal hierarchies and so many other cultural aspects.
Coming back to Seattle, I felt happy for having the opportunity to work in the arts field and be constantly fed by the today’s creative minds, be it in dance, music, visual arts, theater or any other art form. At the same time, I know that I am part of the few lucky ones, as most people don’t have many chances to appreciate or create art. When I assess the economic reality of this country, the outlook is not optimistic. I see budget cuts for arts programs, museum closures, art teachers being laid off, and art education programs being eliminated.
This whole experience at the Louvre made me think, when we cut funds for the arts, aren’t we refraining ourselves from creating works that will become history? Aren’t we crippling future generations from knowing about our own culture? When less and less importance is given to arts education, aren’t we depriving our kids the ability to understand the historic, social, political and religious value of a work of art? When we make art superfluous or a luxury item, aren’t we reinforcing that all the knowledge we gain from works of art is also superfluous?
I understand that the current economical situation is one of the worse in the country’s history, but my hope is that these measures are temporary and produce minimal effects. Not investing in arts can be a vicious cycle, as the kids who will grow up without knowing who Leonardo da Vinci was will be tomorrow’s education leaders.
As an arts marketer, my role is to continue to believe and support the wonderful artists I meet every day. As for the future, all I have to do is to hope for the best; hope that future generations have the aspiration to see the arts thrive regardless of the economic situation.