I’ve been a bit distracted lately from my core focus of writing about “thoughts and ideas about infrastructure for the arts.” First, there was the hideousness and chaos of the current presidential race; then the tragedy of the Orlando massacre; followed by a surge of hope about a Senate vote on sensible gun legislation that quickly became acute disappointment; and then hope again as House members occupy the floor for a day (they are still there as I write this). But is this really a distraction? Or is it the context for art-making in 2016?
After the mass shooting in Tucson that killed 6 and wounded 12 others, I paused for a moment of silence, posting a blank page here. After Newtown, I paused again, at first at a loss for words, but then pleading for the arts sector to lead a culture of love and empathy. There have been over 1000 mass shootings since then – including the recent and most deadly in Orlando: 50 dead, including the shooter. Now, along with building a culture of love and empathy, the arts community needs to take action. Every community needs to take action. We need political change at the local level, at the state level, and eventually at the federal level.
I can’t get on a plane without showing ID, emptying my pockets, and taking off my shoes, but I can go to the corner store and buy ammunition for a semi-automatic rifle. Like a line from The World Turned Upside Down, made famous again by Lin-Manuel Miranda, but which laments the removal of charity from the celebration of Christmas: “Kill a thousand men, or a Town regain, we will give thanks and praise amain.” Bring back charity, empathy, love – act now to stop the killing. And if you’re an artist, make your art matter now, when we really really need it – this is the context we live in. Make it big like CJ Hendry, or make it small in your neighborhood, but make it, tweet it, call your congressman.
Here are some arts action against gun violence websites, articles, and other info: