The end of October 2023 had been very busy for many reasons. One of them was, that the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship organized a three-days inaugural conference in London, England. An event considered by some as a conservative equivalent of the WEF annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland.
For three days, the most prominent conservative thinkers shared the podium, in front of more than one thousand participants, to discuss their views about the current world we live in. The speech I was expecting a lot from, was by a young Canadian music composer Samuel Andreyev. Obviously so, as music is the main topic of my writings.
The title of Andreyev’s speech was There has naver been a better time to be an artist. In a nutshell it was about how important is music, but especially how important are artists, and their ability to be creative and be courageous.
I must say that this has been a real disappointment. I am absolutely convinced, that music doesn’t exists, so that artists can be creative. And here was this fast talking guy throwing a lot of intellectually charged words, but not saying much.
Maybe I was not getting what he had really tried to say?
I was definitely expecting something more related to the important role a music can play in human life, how it can help build community, get citizens together and teach them to be active with a common purpose, to listen to each other, how to communicate without words, how to enjoy being together … and how an artist, or a musician in this case, can help in such endeavour, or how he or she can lead it in a proper way, in a right direction.
No such thing.
Andreyev was talking about the cultural prestige hierarchy, where according to him, musicians and poets rank somewhere below ventriloquists … He clarified, that to be an artist is to celebrate being itself. He complained, that so many artists today feel lost, frustrated, without a purpose, and more troubling of all — unable to engage with an audience. His suggestion — put your work out there, be courageous, and see if it survives. And he invited everyone to share a collective celebration, and to join a “bold creative exploration”.
So what? Is this the best time to be an artist? In spite of the fact that so many artists are unable to find an audience? Are artist courageous enough? If their art doesn’t survive, how can they then survive?
To find out if I was the only one confused with this speech, I checked reactions of other viewers and their comments below the video. And beside some who were happy that someone has justified the existence of musicians and composers in such an important forum, there were many equally confused like myself.
One commenter quipped “I don’t understand the point.”
And, trully enough, the ARC-conference responded: “There is a profound role that artists and creativity can play in the renewal of culture. Despite the fear of AI taking over the creative sectors, despite the general mood of despair and postmodern emptiness, and despite the economic challenges and immense competition artists face; they are the ones who can show us a full-bodied, holistic vision of a beautiful future and give voice to our hopes and pains. So in this conference, which has been very ‘head-y’, we wanted to recognize the immense power of artistic expression to generate the kind of motivation that will lead to visionary citizens who can change their communities for the better.”
Hmmmm … This sounds pretty close to those communist slogans I was forced to listen during my childhood in the socialist Czechoslovakia – about the brighter future, and the new and better society we were changing into… Never happened!
I will cite here a few more comments from the video, as I think they better reflect issues the public deals with, regarding to music:
– One commenter calls for music being more accessible to the wider public, maybe through “returning back to more harmony and traditions.”
– Another one stresses personal responsibility and a parental duty — if parents don’t teach their children to be musical, it is hard to expect them to ‘appreciate’ music and arts later in life.
– Yet another one assessed the reason why a lot of artists lack talent today. He insisted, that it is because they all have similar life experiences, are afraid to step out of the box, lack potential tragedy and isolation in their lives. There is also a blurred distinction between inspiration and entertainment; art and content; meaningful stories and empty catchphrases.
– Someone else mentioned also the education – The school systems don’t care for teaching arts because they want students to become a reliable tax paying citizens with a traditional job for the rest of their lives.
– And the last one I want to mention here, summarizes it really succinctly, although I am not sure if there are many “artists” who are willing and able to listen to it – Understanding is not required to enjoy music. ENJOYING music is its own end!
In an attempt to better understand this, I have even checked a few videos, where Jordan Peterson talks about ‘The Role of Artist’. To no avail, unfortunately. Or I’d better say that I don’t agree with some of Mr. Peterson’s points regarding artists. Sure, some artists could be first to be able to articulate the unknown. But even less of them are real problem solvers, as he described them.
I believe, that the current arts and artists are exposed to some hard to solve contradictions. If creativity becomes a job, but a creator doesn’t appreciate his or her audience, there is a role of a sponsor who could step in. But if that sponsor is a government, there is a lot of space for corruption on every side.
Although artists consider themselves as something unique and a part of the elite, there is a creative stream in each one of us. Too often it gets burried by ignorant education systems, or our own insecurities. I am convinced, that those artists, who know how to share the same ground with their audience, and who are willing to grab their audience by a hand and lead it to new and unknown realms, have no lack of popularity and subsequently success. But that requires understanding and humility — virtues rarely seen, nowadays, among the artistic bunch.
Photo – screen grab from YT