Art Matters

Take a moment and try to imagine what life would be like without the Arts… it’s almost as incomprehensible as trying to imagine how we ever got through life without GPSs and Google Maps. Without having to set foot in a museum or a theatre, we are constantly surrounded by the influence of ‘the Arts’. However, unfortunately we forget that our modern day life and our 21st Century creativity and development, originally stemmed from inspiration from the ‘classics’.

The Arts has played an important and catalytic role in society and it deserves continuous respect and appreciation. It also goes without saying that the Arts, can evoke emotions or trigger personal inspiration in uniquely individual ways.  Art speaks when words cannot explain and communicates in a universal language. Theatre creates new dimensions of reality and dance provokes our imagination and exceeds the illusion of physical boundaries. Music is an essential part of life and each and every one of us have experienced sound that stirs our emotional souls. All of these art forms intertwine with one another, therefore, to neglect one, is comparable to the disruption of a food chain. 

After the publication of a UK government advertisement, I was saddened by their suggestion that people in the entertainment industry should ‘retrain’.  This shows anything but support for aspiring artists of all art forms, and the lack of acknowledgment for their talents and dedication is heart-breaking.

I can only speak from the perspective of my personal experience as a dancer: Once you decide to take your hobby further and ‘make a living’ from it; you have to be prepared to sacrifice a lot. But isn’t that also something that a young aspiring footballer has to do? Or a talented swimmer who dreams of an Olympic medal? 

 But, what is sport other than entertainment for spectators?

 The pandemic has affected Athletes in very similar ways to Artists; games, competitions and tournaments have been cancelled and I don’t have to remind anyone about the postponing of the Olympic games that was to be hosted in Japan this summer. 

The main and crucial difference: Money.  The sporting industry receives significant financial support from governments and sponsors.  They have the means to produce world class Athletes who are continuing to break and set new records. And more important than finance, is the loyal and unwavering support from the fans. The large amount of money invested in sports, consequently generates an even bigger return and an ever growing and developing industry -imagine what the Arts could achieve if they had just half of the financial support.

Sport also encourages a sense of patriotism within nationalities and can even impact a country’s reputation.  A good example is the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted and won by the South African team, the ‘Springboks’.  This particular victory, is not only remembered as a sporting victory, but more so it signified the first moments of a new nation after it’s struggles with the racial segregation laws of ‘Apartheid’.

Nelson Mandela and Francios Pienaar 1995

On the topic of historical moments…where to start in the world of ‘the Arts’ . We only have to think of Leonardo da Vinci and the profound impact he made and how he connected art and science. Or Shakespeare and his monumental influence in theatre and literature. Shakespeare’s Globe, still stands as one of London’s tourist attractions and still an ‘active’ theatre. Centuries after Shakespeares’ death, his work is still universally studied and performed as well as contributing to Literature education (whether we like it or not).  Shakespeare’s work, has also been remastered into Cinematic film and Ballets.

Romeo and Juliette
Ballet production of Romeo and Juliette

I would also like to use the city of Vienna as an example; the city is built on culture and this was cultivated by the numerous artists, writers and musicians who were the driving forces of society. Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Klimt, Schiele, to name only a few. Till this day, these names still remain the heart and soul of the city.  

However, we do not need to be the Leonardo da Vincis or Shakespeares to make an impact; every dancer, every musician, singer, DJ, writer, painter, actor (the neverending list), is part of the creative movement that has been shaping our world for decades.  We are part of a timeless relevance.

Another little historic thought: After WWII, hundreds of Theatres were bombed down to ashes, amongst many other important and monumental buildings. It’s hard to believe that the Theatres and Opera Houses we know today – the heartbeat of many European cities – were built shortly after such a devastating and traumatic time; a time much more destructive than what we are dealing with today.  In the best interest for the growth and support for humanity, culture remained a priority despite the economic hardship. I wish that for our generation. 

Il teatro alla Scala :after WWII bombing
Il teatro alla Scala :current

To be in the entertainment industry is not a glorified ‘hobby’. Dancers do not just jump around in pretty costumes all day and musicians don’t just dabble on their instrument for a couple of hours and. Singers also don’t just find their way onto a stage after sounding good in the shower. We have a passion for something, just like anyone else pursuing a professional career that they are passionate about.

Backstage, Wiener Staatsoper

We do not pursue these disciplines because they are ‘easy’; we embody our art form because that’s what drives us in this life.  We choose this over a so-called ‘safe job’ or high salary job. All we ask for, is to be recognized as being part of the ever growing economy. 

Maria Callas as Violetta in La Traviata

I am so grateful that the theatres in Vienna have reopened and that we are able to share our art and hopefully inspire our audiences.  I am genuinely moved, when I see people standing outside the Vienna State Opera, despite cold temperatures, waiting in line for hours to ensure they get a standing ticket for that evening’s performance.  I have seen tourists, excited to step into the theatre for the very first time, and I have noticed the regulars who come geared up with their fold-up chairs, thermo flask  and a book. These are the people who give, not only money, but also their time and who see the value in cultural entertainment. Even though the theatre is only half full, the sense of  gratitude and appreciation fills the house;this is what inspires me the most.

I had a teacher who used to say: “When you’re onstage, and you take your bow, don’t forget to look up and acknowledge the audience with the standing tickets. They are the people who would do anything just to come and see a performance.”

Wiener Staatsoper

I can only hope, that other countries around the world will begin to do everything in their power to keep the Arts and entertainment industry alive. We have to keep inspiring our generation and generations to come, to be creative and not allow social media to be the only platform for expressing our inner selves.  

“The ‘Earth’ without Art… is just ‘eh’.”

“Being creative is a casual thing, being artist is a professional thing.”

Amit Kalantri

“Art is a line around your thoughts.”

Gustav Klimt

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