The Arts, Community, and the Public Purpose
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: University of Illinois Press
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This book reflects the prolonged engagement of hundreds of artists, community activists, nonprofit administrators, foundation directors, and scholars in an ongoing experiment in making culture meaningful for ordinary citizens. Any lesson that I’ve presented in these pages was gained through the work that I have shared with all of these collaborators. ...
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In 1994, I posed the question to a group of elders from Watt Samaki, a Cambodian Buddhist temple in Portland, Maine. We were seated on hundred- pound sacks of rice in the back room of an Asian grocery, sipping soy drinks and passing a paper plate of shrimp crackers. ...
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Early in my career as a facilitator of community cultural programs, I thought it might be possible to build some social bridges between Portland’s African American community and our newcomer population of African refugees.1 They are all of African descent, I figured, so they must share some common cultural roots. ...
2. Tradition and Innovation
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Community heritage comes to ground in tradition. Tradition needs continuous innovation to maintain its vitality. Tradition and innovation are synergetic opposites; neither can stand alone, since they both provide justification for their counterpart’s existence. ...
3. Presentation and Participation
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At an Irish community meeting, I pressed the assembled activists to define what their culture required to sustain itself locally. “We need access to the best Irish artists,” said one woman. “Our children don’t even have the opportunity to reject their heritage,” she moaned. ...
4. Conservation and Commercialization
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In 1954, Elvis Presley recorded his own rendition of a song that had been written by bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe. “Blue Moon of Kentucky” had been a small-time hit for Monroe, and he used it as his band’s theme music in every performance. Although Monroe’s musical style had been innovative in the 1940s, ...
5. Donation and Deduction
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Historically, the arts have depended on patronage from large institutions: royalty, religion, the aristocracy. Most of the world’s major ancient monuments— the Egyptian pyramids, the Great Wall of China, India’s Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu of the Inca—were built by the state. ...
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The events of September 11, 2001, cast the work of our schools in sharp relief. Because of the hour of the attacks, most children were in class at the time, and it fell to teachers to inform students and help them try to process the incoming data. ...
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A group of unhappy-looking Sudanese men sat on one side of the conference table. They’d come to protest against a daylong Sudanese conference that we’d planned at our Center as a way of bringing the community together.1 Our ultimate goal was to foster cultural initiatives that would grow from the discussions and feel compelling to community members and their families. ...
8. Globalization and Localization
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When the great Sardinian vocal quartet Tenores di Bitti flew to the United States for a tour of a cappella folk choirs, they smuggled through customs several large Coke bottles filled with wine from their own presses.1 I asked them why they brought so much wine along, and they explained that they weren’t sure that they’d be able to find anything drinkable in America. ...
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Ann Carlson, the visionary performer-choreographer-director, was asked to describe the purpose of her art on a fellowship application. She responded with a single word: “Revolution.” The challenges addressed in this book can only be met through the combined ripples from a seismic shift in everyday personal activity. ...
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2004