Monday, May 21, 2012

A City Without Art is a City Without A Heart- by Tasleem

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who come alive.”
- Harold Thurman Whitman
Hastings @ Richards by Luciana Alvarez
And what is it that makes people come alive? Culture, Arts, Music, Movies, Dance, things creative and passionate.  It doesn’t matter if we are the ones who are doing the painting, or performing the dance, or acting in the movie, or if we are watching it.  We could be the observer or the artist, but what matters is that we are surrounded by this creativity and charisma, the freedom to express through, or share in, quite simply Art.
We are all artists in one sense or another. We all have an artist within us.  This is because we are all human-  living breathing beings, with a soul.  And this soul desires to be nurtured and recognized and moved through various modes of expression and communication.  Whether it is coming home after work to watch a good movie, or grabbing a good book off the shelf, or singing to a favorite song in the car, or playing an instrument in a band, we all make use of the artistic environment around us, whether we recognize it or not.
But because we have gotten so used to it being there, often times, we can take this artistic environment for granted.  What if, however, one day, you went to turn the dial on your car radio, or walked into a movie theater, or went to an art gallery and there was nothing there? No art, no music, no movie?  Not because you got to the theater when it was closed but because the artists of all these different venues simply disappeared?  What would it be like without art in our lives, without art in our city?
It sounds ridiculous, but the thought crossed my mind very seriously today after reading an article about how artists in Vancouver in particular are not being recognized or valued.  Many of our most talented painters and dancers and musicians cannot afford the rising real estate prices in this city and some of the most creative artistic hubs of Vancouver are being shut down.
Even the The Vancouver Playhouse Theater Company, lasting almost 50 years, in this city, had to close down recently due to debt.  It seems that much of the problem is the lack of support and recognition towards artists in this city, and the lack of understanding of how important these artists and art really are to sustaining the energy of the city.
Robson @ Howe by Luciana Alvarez
Art in its various forms is what gives a city its flavor, its rhythm, its heart. That’s why we feel so alive and inspired in places like New York, Montreal or London. The architecture and the music create the vibe that we feel as soon as we enter it.  Art is not only seen throughout the city- with people dancing in shows, music playing throughout shops, billboards of all the upcoming concerts and theater productions displayed everywhere- but more importantly, artists are welcomed and valued in those cities.  Writers, painters, designers, musicians and more are given opportunities to foster their talents and be recognized.    And this allows other artists to be even more creative, to feel supported in their dreams.  “Artists, as much as they need affordability, they also need each other. They need an environment to bounce ideas – a critical mass, a velocity of contact, a really, really creative environment.”

If you don’t support the creator of these arts- the artists themselves- they are forced to leave. “The loss of Vancouver’s talent to LA, Montreal, New York and Toronto is something that should concern us all,” says artist and lawyer Sandy Garossino.
And if the artists see no other choice but to leave, you risk taking away the heart of the city.
Art gives us energy. And that energy gets emitted from us out into our environment, into the city that we live in.  Vancouver has amazing talent throughout the city, artists who could keep the city alive and growing, but who need to feel supported by the city to create, to grow and to be inspired and to inspire.

Steam Clock by Luciana Alvarez
In my own life, I have learned, especially over the past few years, how the arts cultivate not only our imagination, thoughts, and minds, but also contribute to our physical and spiritual health and well-being. And this, in turn, contributes to our society as a whole.  It gives our life depth and meaning. But when we shove the arts and artists aside, or do not consider their needs, the city suffers:
As was described so powerfully in the article, “This (Vancouver) is such a beautiful city, and it’s a huge risk the way real estate is going here. It’s becoming a postcard of itself – so smooth that no one can afford to live in it. It risks becoming increasingly one-dimensional. If we really lost our artists – and we do take them for granted – we would feel it in ways that we can’t begin to describe.”