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Yes, Covid is shutting down the arts

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Yes, Covid is shutting down the arts / performance / live music venues, some permanently. And art cannot happen in a vacuum. We just assume that the artist community will bounce back, from sheer resiliency. Or maybe they will come together, rise up as a united force in their own right . . . demanding . . .what? Some kind of patronage, support, suing for real appreciation that will translate into grants or how about just a new kind of sympathetic environment for those who are actually creative in our poppy media-driven culture?

How about divine intervention?

The thing about artists, that makes them artists, is they need space to create their art / music, but they also need places to show and perform their works virtual or real but real is better. Ideally it should be the same space -- the studio! (ideally.)

The former space (where the creative process happens), they / we have, even if it is just a spare room or a kitchen, bedroom or a warehouse . . . Are artists being productive these days? I guess there is no general valid answer to that. Are poets writing more poems? Are artists making more art? Are dancers choreographing amazing dances? Some are but many are hurting.

At some point I suppose, being productive begins to be down-graded by existential depression . . . Is this the future, we wonder?

A taste of the future?

Some see more pandemics or other catastrophes as our fate. Others see fascistic control of societies as the biggest threat, forcing lockdowns and curfews to secure control of populations.

And what if all those low-rent venues keep getting bought up by rich speculators, by the block? Well, this has happened before. . .

I am not trying to outline a history of what artists have faced in modern times but there is plenty of precedence for how the arts are suffering from this economic lockdown:

In the 60s there was "urban renewal" where whole ethic neighborhoods were plowed under for big tenements and parking lots or to make room for sterile parks and franchises, in the name of modernization, but really it was just racism. (The "Bario", a whole street, in Willimantic CT, was disappeared!)

Can the arts survive in a mono-culture? What is a mono-culture? Just look at the glass and steel high-rise business district of any big city. One can tell just by looking from outside-in that there is a uniformity of consciousness buzzing within those towers that doesn't give a sh-t about the beat of real life!

The Beat generation (. . . picture little coffee houses and dives below street level . . ) seemed to belong to a kind of underworld. The common perception was that as "bohemians" they were denizens of a lower-culture . . . Their art was hugely affected, if not literally targeted, by urban renewal because they were outspokenly disdainful of the money-culture. The Beats (1950 - early 1960s) were not marketable, like the folk and hip cultures were marketable. Plus there was always a political edginess associated with the Beat generation that made the "average" person extremely uncomfortable. They were not buying into any part of the American dream except exercising freedom of speech, which for them was (spoken) stream-of-consciousness poetry. In hindsight, they were our prophets of the unraveling of the American dream. They never seemed to belong anywhere but they pretty-much rescued poetry from academia and the realm of books and literature, but they had no friends in high-up places! They were existential misfits and even though they spoke their truth, and that was refreshing to a culture that rewarded greed, hypocrisy and racism, their art was unsustainable.

During the same period as the golden age of the Beats, there was the Red Scare (McCarthyism) that swept the country, equating artists and free expression with Communism. Hard to believe. (Some, of course, were Communists, as American-style Capitalism was so good at making enemies both domestically and abroad!! Besides making money, alienating and disenfranchising people is what capitalism has always done best.)

And before the Red Scare, there were the Spanish Flu, WW1, and the Great Depression . . . I read (internet source): "The Great Depression (between the World Wars) was the first time in U.S. history that a widespread movement of artists began addressing politics and using their art to influence society. Artists organized exhibitions on social and political themes such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, anti-lynching, anti-fascism, and workers' strikes." But I don't see that as a good thing. When art is harnessed to a social message, even if it is nonconformist, anarchistic or anti-war, it is just another kind of propaganda; it reminds me of a bird with a wounded wing.

After WW2, the arts lost its social conscience . . . Psychedelics began to open an ecstatic visionary eye, but the art was terrible!, and non-psychedelic art got very cerebral and disconnected from just about any reality with post-expressionism and pop-art It was basically display-art.

Again, where was the soul hiding??

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger  and author of several books, the latest: 13 Seeds: Health, Karma and Initiation. Over the last few years he has begun calling himself an activist poet, channeling his activism through poetic (more...)
 

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