Sunday’s New York Times had a lengthy article about supporting the Arts: “Arts Patrons, The Next Gerneration.”
Kathryn Shattuck wrote an informative article about the philanthropic legacy of arts-supporting families. She wrote of the 20-30 year olds who are “not merely passing through, writing a check and dressing up for a night in order to rub the right sholders.” She wrote about their assuming positions on arts Boards, chairing fundraisers and managing their family’s donations to the arts through their foundations.
I applaud these young men and women and praise their parents for encouraging such involvement, dedication and philanthropy to the arts. BUT — let me assume the voice of an invited graduation speaker, challenging the audience to capture their dreams and discover themselves.
Their parents may have bought tables to the Museum Ball, be subscribers to the Symphony, donated to the Opera and chaired numerous fundraisers, but these young people have to do more! THEY HAVE TO CHALLENGE AND ALLOW THEMSELVES TO ACTUALLY BE THE ARTISTS THEY SUPPORT!
They have to give themselves permission to follow incredibly stimulating and rewarding, although possibly not lucrative, paths. They have to convince their parents that an artist’s life is commendable. They have to train, study and explore their potential to actually be the poets, the painters, the musicians, dancers and actors they fund. Should we and can we ask more of our arts patrons?