Two things that bothered me today

    1. The NFL has a domestic violence crisis on its hands, and everyone is acting like this is new. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has been the world’s view of domestic violence since the beginning of time, but once again the demonization of Black men in America is a perfect news peg to prove a point. The problem, aside from domestic violence, is that all that this news coverage serves to do is distract us. It distracts us from Mike Brown, Jordan Davis, Kendrick Johnson, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, and countless others. We view Black people as disposable in this country, and every time we sling mud at the NFL, but not also at “stop & frisk” and “stand your ground” that point is driven further into the American psyche. If we’re going to talk about domestic violence, let’s talk about our ass backwards legal policies for reporting and protecting survivors. Let’s talk about victim blaming. Let’s talk about providing resources for Child Protective Services to actually protect children. #ICan’t.
    2. This blog post: I agree with all 50 of the reasons why Corporate America hates Millennials. What I don’t agree with are the writer’s lack of reasons why this is okay. In defying convention and being creative, at some point responsibility, a need for more than health insurance and social security to secure a future, longing for connection outside of cyber space, and securing your credit in order to acquire shelter, matter. I have shared the writer’s sentiments at points in my life, however, this argument didn’t work for Theo Huxtable and it won’t work for anyone else. He took his ass to NYU and became a teacher.

Food for thought

  • “There is so much emphasis on IQ in organizations, and not enough on leadership. Now we have a bunch of technological geniuses who are socially and emotionally inept.” I wish I could shout this from the rooftops of every building in America. This article on Linked In about micromanagement is amazing.  
  • What was the defining moment that changed your life? I have always thought about writing a book where I interviewed my friends and asked them this very question. I wonder how many people walk around with enough consciousness and wherewithall to be able to identify the moment. Did it happen when you were 7, 17, 27, or 57? Here is a link to the article about one woman’s defining moment. Because of her vulnerability I think I’ll write that book now.
  • “How is it that in a film whose premise rests on the idea of reimagining the past, present and future, we still end up with a blonde white woman with flashing blue eyes as the stand-in for what personifies evolution and supremely fulfilled human potential?” I have not seen Lucy, though I want to, but this was an insightful read.  Lucy: Why I’m tired of seeing white people on the Big Screen 
  • I recently was turned onto a show called Roomieloverfriends, which is created by Black & Sexy TV on YouTube. I appreciate that there are people out there who are using the internet to show different images of people of color. Though they may not have one of the big 5 networks behind them, what they are doing is taking control of their images in a way that resonates with black people (and dare I say millennials). I encourage everyone to look at what they are doing.

Arts attendance among American adults is declining

“Danced at a wedding? Crocheted a sweater for your niece? Posted a photograph on Facebook? Then you participated in “art making” or “art sharing,” according to the survey. Listened to music on an iPod or a radio? Then you’re among the 71 percent of Americans who consumed the arts through electronic media, by far the most popular activity recorded.”

New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen recently wrote an article about the National Endowment for the Arts’s survey on arts participation. The survey’s overall findings were that arts attendance among American adults has declined since the last survey in 2008. There were increases in attendance for Dance, Jazz, and Movies, but Ballet, Musical Theater, Art Galleries, and Classical Music all saw decreased attendance. In fact, over the past decade theater attendance has decreased by 33 percent.

A key part of this survey also took into consideration people’s interactions with technology and how that impacted arts attendance. For example, how much are Netflix, Hulu, social media, and other video on demand options affecting how people spend their time? To this Heather A. Hitchens, executive director of the American Theater Wing, said “At the end of the day, I’m not troubled by it,” said . “I believe that all this technology is fantastic, but nothing is going to replace the live experience.” <<< this is what we call denial

To add to the denial, instead of addressing the  issue or talking solutions, the NEA has just expanded the definition of arts participation to everything from listening to music on an iPod to dancing at a friend’s wedding. Are you kidding me? Expanding the definition of arts participation is all well and good until we start talking about arts organizations’ reliance on public and private dollars for survival. Buying stock in Apple is not aiding in keeping the arts thriving.

These numbers are astonishing and scary for artists, arts administrators, city planners, tourism bureaus, and arts enthusiasts who are employed by government or arts organizations. Arts are the heartbeats of cities, but citizens don’t seem to realize it. Cut arts funding and you have a trickle down effect that could eliminate millions of jobs, not only at arts organizations, but also schools, universities, and in the hospitality and service industries.  The NEA is supposed to release another report in January on the reasons people gave for decreased attendance. I’m sure the usual suspects such as no money and no time will appear, but I’ll be interested to see what reasons people gave. Until then I guess we should go about, unconcerned.

Tired of defending my theater major

“If you can’t get a job, and you majored in drama, there’s probably a reason,” said Huckaby, who oversees the state’s public colleges and universities with the guidance of the regents.

Hank Huckaby is the Chancellor for the University Systems of Georgia, the body that oversees all of the state’s universities. He made this comment while being honored for his years of service at a church in Athens, GA, where The University of Georgia is located. Mr. Huckaby, why did you have to pick on the drama majors?

I ‘d first like to link to two articles to counter his statement:

  1. “3 Reasons A Theatre Degree Is Important”
  2. “10 Ways Being A Theatre Major Prepared Me For Success”

And now I’ll explain/rant/give my reasons…

Why is theater always used as the “go-to if you want to fail” major? My theater major got me admitted into my master’s program at Syracuse University (it was required to have majored in a fine art to be admitted). I’m now the Public Relations Manager at a major theater in upstate NY. I also freelance as an arts journalist writing about theater. An article I wrote was recently the cover story for Dramatics Magazine. In addition to the education and job things, being a theater major makes you incredibly well-read, a great team player, an awesome communicator, and you can blend-in in any setting. It’s not about what you major in, it’s about what you do with your degree. I’m not failing, and neither is anyone in the class I graduated in at UGA (go theater majors class of 2011!).

Jobs held by fellow theater majors in my graduating class:

  • House Manager
  • Stage Manager
  • Lighting Designer
  • Teacher
  • Actor/Actress
  • Journalist
  • Production Assistant
  • Dramaturg
  • Assistant Director (on a production)

He made this statement in the context of growing the state’s job market and profile. He said that many jobs are available and vacant because college students are majoring in the wrong things, like drama, and are unqualified. He said this without considering that no one wants to live in a city without the arts. Period. Just because Georgia is among the stingiest states when it comes to funding the arts, does not mean majoring in theater is a problem. It just drives talent out of the state.

When corporations are courting the best talent for their organizations they take them to the opera, ballet, theater, etc. Arts sell cities. Cities need theater majors. He needs to read Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class. Furthermore , being in the arts is a noble pursuit, and every student deserves to feel as if their education and talents are appreciated, especially by the place they are receiving a degree from. I’m tired of defending my theater major, so I won’t anymore. Instead I will live a life of art, fulfillment, and employment.

Read the full article

In Defense of Hipsters

Hipsters have gotten a bad rap lately. They have been called culturally insensitive, gentrifying teeny boppers who have no understanding of the world outside of their Twitter feed, but have the monopoly on cool. They are the ones who only buy their music from record stores, but listen to it on Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.

But I remember what it was like before wearing Vans, acid wash jeans, black rimmed glasses and fedoras were cool. When keeping a journal and going to the skate board shop meant you didn’t fit in somewhere else. Anywhere else. Hipsters were the kids who insisted that the band and the chess club should be funded as much as the football team. Now the same kids who ate lunch in the drama club meeting room have graduated from college and are becoming the new movers and shakers much to the dismay of everyone who called them lame.

Hipsters embrace change in a way that makes most people uncomfortable. It is their inclusiveness, their willingness to embrace the unconventional, that gives them their power. The contribution of the hipster is beyond making wearing suspenders and carrying tote bags with 90s sitcom stills on them cool.

I think what makes hipsters so despised by the mainstream is that they are early adopters, and their influence is spreading. They broke the news on Twitter and now daily newspapers are forced to tweet. They are dictating the cool. They are pushing everyone into the future, while traditionalists are trying to hold steadfast to the past, and resist the present. They say print is dead and digital is in. It’s okay to wear thrift store jeans and carry a Marc Jacobs handbag. They buy local produce from food co-ops. They are choosing what’s relevant and deserves to be carried into the future and what’s dated and out-of-touch, all while wearing their fathers’ 1984 Pink Floyd concert t-shirts. They are winning the culture game, they just don’t have any money. It’s kind of like a twist on high school– the basketball team gets the new jerseys, but everyone wants to sit with the drama kids at the lunch table.

Do we hate hipsters because they behave like sheep or because they’re on to something? Maybe these are the new cultural preservationists. They visit the art galleries, attend the open mic nights, support the underground artists when they have less than 1 million YouTube views, and try the fare at the new local coffee shop. No one moves to the Big Apple or Tinseltown for the ball teams, except the people on the court. The institutions that hipsters patronize are what make great cities. The fringe theaters, thrift boutiques, mosh pits, vegan restaurants—these are the gems that make a place unique.

Perhaps this group of referential graphic tee wearing, f bomb swearing, Beatles listening, emo alt kids is opening us up to new socio-cultural ideas, rather than cloistering themselves in a yesteryear they never knew. Maybe they are walking nostalgia museums, reminding their parents and grandparents of youth, and  of all of the passion, or lack thereof, that comes with it.