The Subversive Tack: Because Making the Case Isn’t Working

11:39 am in Resources & News by Tara Aesquivel

Originally posted on ARTSBlog as part of an Emerging Leaders Blog Salon.

Anyone reading on ArtsBlog has likely already drunk the Kool-Aid.  You know the benefits of an arts education and lifelong arts participation.  You know that the arts are everywhere, in everything, for everyone.  I’m not going to be another repetitive voice confirming your beliefs.  I’m going to point to some great activities happening in the Los Angeles and, hopefully, present some subversive ideas for how to make artistry the norm.

The introduction:  I’m Tara Aesquivel, formerly known as Tara Scroggins.  I think I’ve been invited to this blog salon because of my role as the Executive Chair of Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles.  My subsequent posts will be related to several other items on my LinkedIn profile:

  • Part 2: Arts + Sustainability-  My full-time job is being the Program Coordinator for the M.A. in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University Los Angeles.
  • Part 3:  Arts + Education- I hold a seat on the Young Professionals Advisory Board at Inner-City Arts and have recently joined the Create CA movement.
  • Part 4: Arts + Economy- I studied Cultural Economics at the University of Bologna, an opportunity through the Master of Arts Management  program at Carnegie Mellon University.

So what’s behind the title of my blog?  (Just after penning that title, I discovered that I’m not the only one publicly admitting that making the case isn’t working.)  What do I mean by that? First, we know that there are a lot of arts advocates doing amazing, excellent, hard work.  They are wonderful and their work is vastly under-recognized– and that’s my point.  As Diane Ragsdale alludes, there are a lot of resources going into advocating for the arts– there have been for decades– but the overall level of artistic participation and investment is minuscule in comparison to what it could be.  In the US, in particular, artistry is so frequently used as a signifier for something else (product quality, cool factor, social status) that we often have to consciously adjust our perspective to observe something purely for its artistic value.  We’ve been using our precious resources to make the case for the arts, loud and clear, for a long time.  The arts are still not widely accepted as an important part of life and culture.  We need a new strategy.

How do we meet people where they are instead of trying to drag them into a theater?  How do we reveal to people that art is already in their life and they already like it, rather than convincing them of the relevance of art made by dead white guys?  How do we use the American economic and education systems to our benefit?

I’m going to use the formula “Art + ___” and address a few areas of integration.  There are a lot of cross-sector partnerships happening out there, which is great.  However, I’m going to try to uncover deeper, inseparable connections.  I’m going to try.  I hope you’ll join me.

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