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Reflecting on the Holidays, New Year, & the Arts

Tim Mikulski

It’s become a tradition that ARTSblog offers up a question as part of our annual New Year’s card (our 2012 question will be posted in two weeks), so I didn’t want to take away from that when I started writing a “Happy Holidays” post this morning.

As I began writing a simple message thanking our members, friends, arts leaders (both emerging and emerged), artists, arts administrators, arts educators, social media readers, bloggers, advocates, funders (current, past, and future), partner organizations, business leaders, and (insert anyone I accidentally missed here), I searched the Internet for a quote that would be appropriate for the holidays or New Year that also included the arts.

I found a few that I liked, but then it dawned on me. I need only look back to our 2009 Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy given by Wynton Marsalis. His performance/speech was titled “The Ballad of the American Arts.”

As he covered our country’s history, the end of Marsalis’ speech talked about the future and I think this passage sums up the end of year/holiday feeling that many of us have this time of year:

“…As we forward our agendas for our various arts causes, let’s remember there is only one cause. And whether that cause is expressed in artists visiting schools, or museum trips, or arts curricula, or master classes, or community bands, or artist diplomats, or swing dance competitions, the agenda is larger, the agenda is larger than our individual agendas.

We need to look in our hand to find the key we’ve been searching for. It’s what the Constitution started. Congo Square ratified. The Civil War sealed. The repeal of Reconstruction tested. Ellis Island cosigned. The Depression matured. Two World Wars proved. The Civil Rights Movement affirmed. Vietnam and Iraq sobered.

And now is the time to realize this is our story. This is our song. If well sung, it tells us who we are and where we belong. What is in those songs and the way we sing them is all you know. It’s all you need to know, and it’s all you will ever need to know.”

Happy Holidays from ARTSblog (me) and our entire Americans for the Arts staff, board, and artist committee.

See you in 2012!

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