Living for More Than Profit

On Facebook today, the Shakespeare Tavern drew my attention to a recent article by Susan Booth, artistic director of the Alliance Theater.  (And there you have some of the most important hyperlinks you’ll ever need, all in one sentence 🙂

In her article, Booth articulates that funding for the arts has largely failed since we’ve moved to a consumer-centered capitalist bottom-line ideology because the arts are not about profit of a material kind but about profit of an essential, unquantifiable human kind.

The supply-and-demand question isn’t really about a supply of cultural organizations and a demand for the arts.

And as long as we keep arts-funding relegated to that small definition, we will always have cries for financial help and imperiled institutions.

But were we to acknowledge that our shared need for introspection and empathy flows through every facet of our daily lives and is therefore essential for us to support, then perhaps we’d stop talking about arts funding and start talking about humanity funding.

I think that Booth has not only diagnosed the cyclical nature of the annual funds and desperate direct mailings that theater-lovers receive on an ever increasing basis, but she has also discovered how America has impoverished itself.  Defining our lives by the cruel rigor of supply-demand excises us from the source of life.  

My seventh grade science book defined life as the ability to:

  • grow
  • respond to surroundings
  • reproduce
  • extract energy from the sun (or food)

In my marketplace mire, I often see death:

  • one routine that never changes or offers incentive for improvement
  • inability to react to people, events–internal or external–in deference to the “professional” determination to ignore everything that doesn’t contribute to scanning at a register, checking out online, or sealing the deal
  • strict limitations on how much or how little of another individual’s ideas, personality, etc. I can incorporate into something new that combines with my ideas, personality, etc.
  • discouragement to engage with spirituality, Nature, feasting, partying, dancing, laughing, music, or other food for body, mind, soul, and spirit

So I take up Booth’s challenge and snowball it into my own: I WILL LIVE!  Not only will I make it through the day, but I will decay a little less.  A plant or animal expends all its energy on those four characteristics of life; I will quit hoarding the precious little I have in the hope that it will suddenly expand into a never-ending, self-sustaining supply for which there will be eternal demand, but I will give my time and energy to growth, reaction, reproduction, and sustenance.  Like Booth explained, communities that are culturally impacted by the arts are compassionate and vital (alive).  Maybe America would have more personal improvements, more interconnectivity, more happy babies and creative masterpieces, more girth––all because of a little more of a fiscally silly thing: funding humanity.

Life should be a crazy ride that you just hold on and enjoy.

Life should be a crazy ride that you just hold on and enjoy.

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