There is a notion that a society is defined by its art and culture. Think about that for a moment. A culture can be described as a set of behaviors or beliefs common to a society. Society and culture are two different things but also seem to mean the same thing. Like the “chicken or the egg” question we can ask, does a society create a culture or does a culture create a society?
I would think the society comes first. The behaviors and beliefs would then set the culture for that society. That could be either good or bad. So, I ask again to think about that for a moment. Does this have anything to do with how we spend our time? (See some suggestions below)
Cultural Literacy versus “Doom-Scrolling”
Cultural literacy is a phrase that often comes about in discussions of societal development. This has to do with how we, as a society basically spend our time or what we place our attention toward. For example, the more I “doom-scroll” on social media the less time I have edifying myself toward more enriching things. (And, I have been doing a lot of “doom-scrolling” these days.)
Shifting the Conversation
To get out of that cycle, I remind myself that making a better place for my immediate surroundings could include a shift in the conversation. How can I improve the atmosphere around me and encourage the best in myself and others? Could I create or contribute to a healthier discussion and use of my time? If I do these things, will I be setting a personal practice that could invite others to consider the same? Could my immediate friends and family, neighbors and loved ones be a micro-culture that defines how I view or enjoy my interactions with others? Will I want to hear, listen, and contribute to ideas, concerns and actions of others in a way that is constructive and helpful? If I do, will I be at least one example of a world becoming a more tolerant place? Will that mean a culture based on these practices could make a better society?
A Vision Visited
This is a vision that is often dreamt and visited. We hear this idea many times in stirring speeches and stories. Artists are usually looked at to help us process and heal. They often give initial guidance after tragedy or set the tone before a celebration. We can see this just recently with Amanda Gorman as she stirred many Americans with her poem at the 2021 inauguration of American President, Joe Biden.
An Unspoken Creative Oath
Many of us are processing so much right now including Covid-19, a contentious election, civil-unrest, loss of jobs or loved ones, the list goes on. As an artist, I sometimes find it hard to make anything during these recent months. Then I remind myself of what may amount to an unspoken “oath” that creative people might acknowledge as a motivation. Many artists feel that we can give of ourselves to engender a sense of community. We want to kick-start the conversation by sharing ourselves through whatever talents we can offer. Hopefully, this generates and fosters a shared commonality. A good beat, an inspiring word, a soul stirring picture, a captivating dance, can be felt and acknowledged by everyone despite race, gender, class, or politics.
Here are some artists and programs you may want to explore and see how they are offering themselves and inspiring others.
Due to Covid19, all concert venues have closed for the time being, so Etienne Gara and YuEun Kim have decided to take to the road with their instruments and safely bring music to people. The goal of MusiKaravan is to showcase great music, delicious food and wine together with human bonding.
South Bay Chamber Music Society
The aim of SBCMS is to present the highest quality chamber music performances featuring the finest musicians in Southern California. Their concerts are now virtual. Visit their site to enjoy their recorded live concerts.
Inner City Youth Orchestra
Led by Composer and Conductor, Charles Dickerson III, their mission is to cultivate musical expression as a vehicle for personal development, and to bring to fruition the full musical and academic potential of young inner city residents of Los Angeles.
Through the ICYOLA Orchestra Program, they present an annual Concert Season of 8-10 concerts that features both the standard orchestral repertoire and contemporary music that resounds within the community from which ICYOLA emanates and that it serves. That Concert Season concludes each year with a Season Finale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The ICYOLA boasts approximately 125 members aged 10 and above.
Google’s Virtual Art Tours
One thing about the Covid era, staying safe at home meant going virtual got better! For an aggregate of information, go no further than the almighty Google to arrange virtual tours of collections from nearly every art museum on the planet!
The National Museum
Tour the British National Museum or browse their collections. So much to see. Join their email list and stay involved with them as they continue their work even while they are closed.
The Louvre Museum Virtual Tours
Which art museum is more famous than the Louvre? Arguably none other! Visit the museum rooms and galleries, admire the palace architecture and enjoy the views! Join a virtual tour. Choose your language, or enjoy the tour in the universal language of art.
You can visit Penguin Random House for live virtual author events. Click their link to learn more.
Enjoy the Arts, Enjoy Life
Our behaviors and beliefs, or said another way, what we focus and concentrate on, will be our culture. Our culture will define our society. Enjoy these offerings and explore and create your own connections through art and music. We cannot help but find our humanity in these things.