Posted by Laura Rehrmann on Mar 04, 2020
Music, music, music filled the Sheraton ballroom as Arnie Ness and Freeman Fong led us in song followed by Seattle Opera tenor, Joshua Stuart, who performed excerpts from the Opera’s current production of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird
Joel Paget’s inspiration called on us to live in the moment and value what matters.  He quoted a famous mufti who said, “Do not neglect the link with our maker.  That is the only way to keep our sanity during these times.” 
Our featured presenter, Seattle Opera’s General Director, Christine Scheppelmann gave a reasoned and impassioned plea for the importance of the arts in our daily life.  “Imagine a city with no arts at all,” she said.  There would be no radio, theater, dance, movies, architecture, books, libraries, museums, or music.  We would live in a cultural desert barren of art in its broadest definition and devoid of attractions for the creative class of workers we need.”
She said that Seattle ranks only 10th in the US in expected growth of the creative class and our state budget provides only $1.6 million annually in support of the arts.  And yet the arts add $41.1 million to our state economy.  We attract artists to our concert halls and stages because of the quality of our symphony and skilled craftspeople who are the technicians, designers, and managers of our performance spaces, she said. 
Art has always been a visual part of a powerful city she said commenting on the Medici's influence in Italy.  The history of patronage for the arts extends from Augustus’s reign to today.  Monarchies sported the arts in Europe until governments in the 20th century built support of the arts into their constitutions.  Born and raised in Hamburg, Germany with a career that has taken her to many European cities, Christine sees too much government waste in state-funded arts.  In the US, generous donors who support the arts expect accountability she said, which is a better system. 
Seattle Opera employs 800 people annually, and up to 40% of Seattle Opera’s expenses are covered by ticket revenue with the remainder covered by philanthropy.  Private support makes the arts accessible to all, she said, because without it, ticket prices would need to be $1,000 or more. 
Beyond contributions to the economy, “art teaches us civility to keep us connected to our humanity,” she said.  She emphasized how important it is to introduce children to music, dance, art, and theater because research shows that a child engaged in the arts will have long-term academic and career success because the arts teach teamwork, empathy, persistence, and creativity, she said.
We need to support and talk about the arts at large, she said. “We all have the responsibility to make sure art is in our lives.”  The rich tenor and moving performance of Joshua Stuart opened our meeting with a standing ovation.  A testament to the power of art to connect us all.

Thank you Totem Reporter Laura Rehrmann.

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