NEA As A Staple for Arts in the US

“We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation.” The NEA posted the statement you see here after it was announced that President Trump will be moving forward to eliminate the agency.

Quartz delves into who actually loses if this agency is eliminated. In terms of the actual numbers, the NEA is a tiny fraction of the federal budget, according to The Atlas:

So, why does it matter if the US government gets out of the business of funding arts? Well, as the aforementioned Quartz article puts it, “cutting federal support for the arts will have the greatest impact in rural areas and on the vast swath of America that sits between its coasts. Big city museums and performing arts centers often benefit from the largesse of corporations and luxury brands eager to associate themselves with the high culture they represent. But NEA grant money helps to smooth out access to the arts across the nation, said Ryan Stubbs, the research director at the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. It funnels essential grants to organizations in underserved counties that are less likely to receive support from private patrons.” So basically, art kids like me who grew up in not-so-metropolitan midwestern cities, that’s who loses here. Learn more about the potential cuts and what they mean here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/with-elimination-of-nea-and-neh-trumps-budget-is-worst-case-scenario-for-arts-groups/2017/03/15/5291645a-09bb-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html or here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/arts/nea-neh-endowments-trump.html?_r=0

Why some support it here:

http://www.heritage.org/report/ten-good-reasons-eliminate-funding-the-national-endowment-orthe-arts

Huffington Post Talks Music as A Religious Experience

After stumbling over an article in a Baptist publication debating whether or not the Church needs to concern itself with people viewing music as a religious experience I found myself having the same, albeit internal, debate. Thankfully, Huffington Post had worked it out in 2011. Author, Michael Graziano shares his insights in Why is Music Religious Experience? Many of the moral generalizations that have been applied to religion apply just as well to music. Music is a cultural phenomenon. It intensifies emotions. It helps cement communities. It can range from the terroristic to the sublime.” In closing, Graziano shares a sentiment not unlike my own, “My brain is treating the music like a universe of complexity and investing that universe with its own deity, for whom I feel some measure of awe and reverence. My relationship to the music is, in the most fundamental sense, the same as a religious relationship to the real world.”

Raised by former-Catholic’s my experience with church, well institutionalized religion was lacking for many years – basically until I went through confirmation at the United Church of Christ nondenominational church a block away from my house. In the final few months of the Confirmation process we had to write about our interpretation/relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit individually. In my writing about the Holy Spirit, I wrote about music, something I to this day see as the tangible mark that something bigger than us is out there giving out gifts. So why is music a religious experience (for some)? To me, its another form of creation – a gift given to those who create it by something or someone beyond this world.

Music as a Religion? Maren Morris Might Think So.

In Maren Morris’ ‘My Church’ she uses traditionally religious rhetoric to communicate the depth of her feelings about music and songwriting. In an interview with Genius, Morris described it as ‘a road song’ saying, “I wrote it in a place of inspiration. I get a lot of my songwriting done while driving around Nashville—sometimes it comes to me that way. I tried to write about that feeling, that connection.”

The chorus of the country chart topper sings,

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen

Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

Check out the song, and see about the reference to music as religion for yourself.

Refugee Choir Brings People Together

“Imagine as you read this story, the sound of a choir in the distance learning “What a Wonderful World.” Music is truly a universal language.  No matter our differences in religion, politics, or ethnicity, it brings people together”

A choir of refugee’s from across the planet come together to sing in Tacoma, Washington. Though they don’t speak the same language they come together for the universally binding – music. Follow the link below for the full story:

http://www.king5.com/news/local/tacoma/tacoma-refugee-choir-forges-new-friendships/408719535

Bad Girls Orchestra

A group of “bad girls” in Afghanistan are fighting extremism with music according to an Upworthy piece. Zarifa Adiba is the conductor of this all female orchestra, who says “unfortunately I am a bad girl. Because I go study, because I want my human rights and I want to do what I love.” The orchestra itself is not only the first of its kind, but the girls and young women involved are the first in their families to learn to play in thirty years as the Taliban forbade playing and listening to music. An inspiring piece on women coming together to fight for their rights through the universal language of music.

Full video here:

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A Case Study on Censorship – Not Ready to Make Nice (Song of the Week)

Does censorship still exist? You’d say no, right? But let’s look at the Dixie Chicks, and  then I’ll ask you again.

On March 10, 2003, the Dixie Chicks were on the opening date of their ‘Top of the World’ tour in London, England, just days before the initial invasion of Iraq when lead singer Natalie Maines told the crowd, “Just so you know, we’re ashamedthe president of the United States is from Texas” about President Bush. The trio finished their tour but were essentially banished from mainstream country music in the United States and virtually censored for three full years as they faced public and media scrutiny following the incident, including threats of physical harm and death wishes

In 2006 they release ‘Taking the Long Road’ which included ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’with lyrics such as “how in the world could the words that I said send somebody so over the edge that they’d right me a letter saying I better shut up and sing or my life will be over?”

The Dixie Chicks were effectively censored in 2003, a censorship which stood in the United States until 2016 when they announced a State Fair circuit, but will likely never release or perform in the States in the same capacity as before their comments on Bush.

So I ask again, does censorship still exist? And what are you willing to do if it does?