“Bit by bit, putting it together…
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution, every little detail plays a part.
Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution:
Putting it together – that’s what counts!”
Sondheim. What a wordsmith. And any actor who’s done a Sondheim piece knows the unique meter of his words – as I read the lyrics above (“Putting It Together” from “Sunday In the Park With George”), I did it note for note (Sondheim fans will get the joke).
OK, enough about writing for the micro-audience. I’m on a much bigger mission here.
I want you to think about art.
What does that word say to you? A picture on the wall? A sculpture? A song? A live stage drama? An interpretive dance? A humorous blog?
Now let’s take it a step further. What does art do for you? Inspire? Calm? Recharge? Provide an escape? Amuse?
Let’s all agree that art has an effect on every soul it touches. Books have saved lives, songs have captured moments and emotions, cartoons have expressed political rebellion, dance has given us grace, portraits have invited compliments. All have prompted thought and conversation.
Now let’s visit a much darker scene.
We could be living in a place devoid of art.
Theaters could go dark. No stages would mean no dances or recitals. Roundabouts would be flat. Walls would be boring. And the only singing might be the occasional National Anthem, a beautiful song, but not to replace the wide variety of music we’re used to.
There are those among us who believe every penny of municipal money should be spent on public services they consider important, such as streets, housing, traffic, infrastructure and taking care of the poor. All noble services.
But what the blinder-wearing critics don’t see is that all of those services benefit from an art component.
When you’re driving down the freeway, do you notice the subtle patterns stamped into the concrete sound walls? You can tell where you are depending on the art. And housing? We paint buildings different colors, but a splash of something nontraditional really catches the eye and lifts spirits. Infrastructure? Doesn’t that mean a foundation for the best quality of life we can get? And stewardship for those less fortunate should be a given, from not just city sources but from our own pockets, to make sure everyone has a place to life and food to eat. Sometimes art is the only bright light for those struggling to get through life.
But an equal responsibility for all of us, and most of all, our leaders is to also support the aesthetics of our community. Sculptures at the trailheads. Murals in the downtown gathering places. Music at every assembly. Colors and sounds, emoting and creating is essential to human growth and nurturing everywhere.
What many fail to see is that in the tangled web of municipal finance, arts funding is very small, but traditionally spent to get the best benefit for all. It’s also funding that doesn’t impact other funding – money spent on art doesn’t deprive roads or food pantries or senior programs. And if the funds come from grants, they may be restricted only to arts and are not available for those other purposes.
Now you may not think that those voices can influence the decision makers, especially if they are small in number.
Wrong. They killed the art in the Newhall roundabout.
Short-sightedness like theirs makes arts administrators cringe when a creative, locally-sourced project is killed because of squeaky wheels and not the project’s merits.
Artists of all disciplines are not without fault. They did not fill the Council chambers to stand up for their fellow creatives.
Lucky for us, we have a second chance. The Santa Clarita City Council has brought a consultant aboard to assess the arts picture (pun intended) and listen to the people express what they want to see in our city. All of the people, squeaky wheels, starving artists, creative musicians, enlightened painters, singers, dancers, actors, comedians, poets and artistic types. Everyone.
“Small amounts, adding up to make a work of art.
First of all you need a good foundation, otherwise it’s risky from the start.
Takes a little cocktail conversation, but without the proper preparation,
Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution.
The art of making art – is putting it together
Bit by bit…”
There are two ways you can add your voice to support the arts – express your opinions by taking the survey online at this link: http://arts.santa-clarita.com/arts-master-plan/
It doesn’t take long and offers the opportunity to add ideas that may not be listed in the options. Most of all, it will give you a chance to say if you want more art, less art, where you want the art, how you want to experience it, and what art you appreciate now.
This would be a good time to remind you that there are several nonprofit arts groups in existence that give of their hearts and souls to make Santa Clarita an artistic place. A few that come to mind – the Canyon Theatre Guild, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, the Santa Clarita Artists Association, the Santa Clarita Concert Band, ARTree, the Santa Clarita Symphony, the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival, the Repertory East Playhouse, the Santa Clarita Youth Orchestra……well, I promised a few, but there are many more, trust me. Many of them don’t get paid to create their art and do it out of passion and the desire to make their community a better place.
The other thing you can do is come to the Arts Summit (again, info at http://arts.santa-clarita.com/arts-master-plan/), it’s on Monday, April 6 at the Activities Center (above the Aquatics Center on Centre Pointe Parkway) from 6:30 to 8. There will be a panel discussion and breakout groups to narrow down what is important to all. It’s a one-night, short time commitment to improve the arts outlook for our future – and the future of our children, grandchildren and visitors.
Oh yeah, tourism helps pay for some of those essential services too – so let’s make sure there’s some culture for people passing through and stopping for a day or two.
Join me and do something to make sure we’re not living in boring beige concrete canyons, please?
And thank you for reading while I express myself artistically.
“The art of making art is putting it together” (jazz hands)
Above: art commissioned by the City of Santa Clarita. Girl and dog sculpture at Canyon Country Park by Madeline Wiener, Aquatics Center mural by Bob Hernandez, Old Town Newhall mural by Frank Rock