I'm tying up loose ends here before I head off to Seattle tomorrow for the annual Americans for the Arts convention. I attended the convention for the first time last year (in Philadelphia) and found it incredibly inspiring. I will post my takeaways and big ideas here when I return. In the meantime, here is a blurb from the incredibly moving 22nd Annual Nancy Hanks lecture on American Arts and Public Policy delivered by Wynton Marsalis at the Kennedy Center in March. If you have a few minutes, please watch this video at the Americans for the Arts website.
This is entitled “The Ballad of American Arts.” Before we sang, we spoke. Before we danced, we walked. Before we wrote, we told stories. Before we told stories, we lived. Those songs, dances, writings allow us to speak to one another across generations.
They gave us an understanding of our commonality long before that DNA told us we are all part of one glorious procession. At any point on the timeline of human history, there are tales to be told of love and loss; glory and shame; profundity and even profound stupidity; tales that deserve retelling, embellishing, and if need be, inventing from whole cloth. This is our story. This is our song. If well sung, it tells us who we are and where we belong.