The Austin Buisness Journal recently ran an article that addresses opinions regarding the Hotel Occupancy Tax issue. In our Get Your Art On insert, that went out in yesterday’s Austin American Statesman and can be found all-around town, our Executive Director, Latifah Taormina, wrote on the importance of supporting art and funding. I would say it was our response to the recent points on the issue, but we just happened to write it first. And while it is relevant, it’s also a love-letter to the arts and to all of you, and a great thing to read while gearing up for Get Your Art On.
JUST A MOMENT
Art can make a moment last a lifetime. A moment when tears of joy jump out of your eyes, a moment of stock-still-incredulous amazement, a moment of tingly electricity — or shock and awe. Like when I first saw the Guernica at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Or “West Side Story” when it first opened. Electrifying, non-stop dancing, music, lyrics, choreography. I sat on the edge of my seat the whole night. Or a single word spoken by Geraldine Page at a preview of “Sweet Bird of Youth.” A phone call comes unexpectedly to this has-been actress. From an agent. She hasn’t had calls for ages; maybe someone is interested. “Really?” she asks. It made the tears jump out of my eyes. The whole audience cried, laughed, cheered. A moment. One word. The arts speak the language of feeling. They touch and they teach — and they very much teach us how to be human.
Here in Austin, much of our art, particularly the work of emerging artists, is funded in part by the City via a percentage of bed tax funds. Not from local residents, but from visitors staying in our hotels. Some representatives of the hotel industry would like to make sure none of that money supports artists who take their work into the schools. What does that have to do with attracting tourists, they ask? Will the CEOs thinking of bringing companies here want their children in schools where there is no art, no music, no creativity or imagination? Is this then, the Austin, that will attract tourists?
Look how four young boys from England changed the world with their music. Music they began playing in school.
I urge you to tell your Council Members, your representatives, and your out of town guests who stay in hotels, that you want to see the arts fully supported in Austin — in our theaters, our galleries, our museums, our parks, our clubs, our schools, our churches, our temples, our mosques, our homes, our families — our lives. Join our Alliance. Help us change the paradigm for how we support and value the arts. Join us as we work to build more public awareness of, support for, and engagement with our art, our culture, and our creativity. Let’s all Get Our Art On and keep it on!
William Carlos Williams said: “It’s hard to get the news from poems, but men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”
Another writer, Jeanette Winterson, says, “Art’s counterculture, however diverse, holds in plain sight what the material world denies: love and imagination. Art is made out of both: a passionate, reckless love of the work in its own right, as though nothing else exists, and an imaginative force that creates something new out of disparate material.”
And let me take a moment to thank you for making Austin special!
Greater Austin Creative Alliance