By Kevil Tice ~
Previously, between 1912 and 1948, Art Competitions were a part of the Olympics.
Currently, the “45” Administration is preparing to get rid of funding for the National Endowment for The Arts. (insert sad face, angry face, crying face, and a fist…)
Now, what is NEA? Glad you asked. The website www.arts.gov defines it as “an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.” It greatly supports education that focuses on The Arts and encourages the expression of diverse cultural heritage in America.
AGAIN…BETWEEN 1912 AND 1948, ART COMPETITIONS WERE A PART OF THE OLYMPICS!!
Medals were awarded for architecture, music, painting, and sculpture. So, somewhere, somehow, someone, way back then, had the feeling that The Arts was a necessary category within the variety of extraordinary talents showcased at each event. Eventually, The Arts competitions were dropped because artists were considered to be professionals and The Olympics was formed around amateur level skills.
Artists were considered to be Professionals, they say? I guess they forgot to send out the memo, because while attention to The Arts is increasingly growing these days, the generalization still exists that artists are just a bunch of daydreamers who have trouble focusing…the struggling artists…the wannabes…the aspiring something or others…
I remember when taking Arts & Crafts, Home Economics, and Music was required in school. Now, we are seeing those courses watered down, limited, and in many cases removed from schools. It breaks my heart to know that there is a boy with camera lenses for eyes who just needs someone to make equipment available to him so he can discover the photographer within himself. There is a girl who can’t stop tapping her pencil on her desk and humming because she writes music within her head but has yet to learn how to read music with her eyes. Young kids are being called weird for cutting holes in clothing and stitching mismatched fabrics together, when in fact, they are destined to be fashion designers. They are breaking dishes and starting small fires in their kitchens because their schools don’t offer cooking classes for aspiring Chefs and Cake Decorators. I refuse to label them “wannabes.” They are Young Professionals In Training!
Needless to say, WE NEED THE ARTS!!
Without The Arts, there will be no bronze statue of Tupac Shakur to be unveiled on the grounds of the former Tupac Amaru Shakur Center. There would not be a statue of Tuscaloosa native and WBC Heavy Weight Champ Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder.
Without creative minds, ‘What The Shape’ Air Jordan custom made candles would not exist. Neither would T-Town based ‘Pretty Wicked’ hand poured candles by TaNieka Wilson.
Without the gifted ears of musicians, musical notes would never reach the levels of Kenny G. We wouldn’t be able to dance to the sounds from the instrument of Tuscaloosa’s own Loyd Watson Jr.
So, while we may not be able to support, invest in, or create Art all over the world, we can do our part in this town. Tuscaloosa continuosly has a lot of events surrounding The Arts. We have venues that consistently feature local talent, museums packed with history and magnificent exhibits, amphitheater and roof top stages blasting the melodies of some of the greatest musicians, theater productions that showcase the performance skills of all ages, and personal Chefs and Caterers serving the most fascinating culinary creations you ever laid eyes on.
Contrary to the perceptions of this small city, we have a lot going on. Here are a few of my favorite venues, performing arts organizations, and events if you need a starting point:
Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center ~ African American Film Festival ~ Bama Theater ~ Druid City Arts Festival ~ All Fired Up ~ Kentuck Park ~ Johnny Shines Blues Festival ~ The Actor’s Charitable Theater ~ Moody Music Building ~ African American Read In ~Tuscaloosa Children’s Theater ~ Black Warrior Film Festival ~ Bean Brown Theater ~ Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum ~ Death By Chocolate Tournament ~ Uptown Art ~ Live at the Plaza
Whether the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts gets removed or not, let’s do our part in Tuscaloosa and support The Arts to the best of our ability. Let’s attend the events, encourage our local talent, and by all means, invest in our Young Professionals In Training!
Come on T-Town! Let’s Make The Arts Great Again!
“Give me your artists, your daydreamers,
Your huddled masses yearning to express freely,
The fashion designers of your teeming shore.
Send these, the poets, filmmakers,
I lift my camera beside the golden door!”