Monday, April 20, 2009
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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
I had been looking forward to the Indy Culture Matters Rally for a couple weeks and was quite impressed with the turn out. I would hate to have hazard a guess myself on the attendance, but apparently the IMPD estimated the turn out in the neighborhood of 2000 people. Much higher than some of the radio stations I heard tell say a couple hundred. I had the opportunity to see a great number of people I don't often have a chance to chat with which has nice and a great variety of local arts organizations made there presence known. The Indy Culture Matters Rally t-shirts could be seen bespeckling the crowd. It appeared that all of the television stations made it out filming the event and interviewing a number of people. All of this is good as it gets the name of these assorted arts organizations out to a larger audience and helps us build the awareness of the arts and how it matters to Indy's future and growth. Optimism was certainly in the air.
I am not sure what I expected at the Rally exactly, perhaps some rebel rousing, a feel that we are sick and tired of being side lined. But this element did not quite rear its head. Instead, it felt much more like a pep rally. While most of the event had some good points, I would be remiss if I did not bring up one point in particular, the Mayor. Am I the only one who was surprised he was there to speak on behalf of the arts? I was thinking to myself, "you got to be f**king kidding me". After all he is, in my mind, one of the key reasons the arts are being side lined and all arts funding is being cut. The sheer number of cheers and people clapping when the Mayor was introduced was a bit surprising to me as well (am I just a cynic), I didn't hear a single boo or any sort of heckling. Perhaps we are just too kind to do such a thing, but for a rally put together in what I thought was the spirit of activism, it sort of ran aground. The Mayor did mention a number of the bullet points we all use to defend the need to continue to fund the arts and discussed how the arts are important to the long term growth of Indianapolis but he failed (or rather cleverly) to mention his planned cuts to all arts funding. He left us with his final thoughts to all the arts organizations (I may be paraphrasing here) "Continue to do what you do". Well, thanks.
So, what was ugly? The weather. Yes... It was quite cold which may have had an impact on the turn out as I did not see some people I expected to see. I know once I set foot outside I was briefly tempted to not head out but this event was necessary. It was completely overcast but I at least the rain held out. A good thing as I forgot to bring an umbrella.
In all, I think the event was very much worthwhile and in many regards a success. Everyone involved in getting this event up and running should be commended for doing a fabulous job. Getting all these diverse arts organizations out together to make a statement is no easy task. Time will tell if this gathering had any sort of impact on our current situation. I can only hope that the Mayor and other policy makers in Indianapolis took notice and understand the importance to continue funding the arts. While Indy and the rest of the state is being asked to bail out the local stadiums for a total cost of $47 million, we could continue to fund the arts (which was budgeted at $1.5 million a year) for the next 30 years. Maybe I again focused on what I felt was bad about the rally but I choose to remain optimistic.