When I was a kid, practicing the piano was a chore. I always loved the final result, of performing in front of people, but the amount of work required to get there was done begrudgingly, with little enthusiasm. I wanted to be an artist, and then a writer. I spent hours every day in my room, filling up spiral-bound notebooks with pencil sketches and snippets of stories. I dabbled in acrylics, charcoals, pastels, and photography. I wrote the beginning of a sweeping epic fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist long before I knew what feminism was.

Once I decided to pursue music in college, my other artistic aspirations fell by the wayside. While I don't regret my career choice, a part of me has always missed that feeling of stretching my imagination in extra-musical ways. I started to wonder why artists today were so isolated in their own endeavors; I had no idea what my fellow creatives in the visual, literary, film, and dance fields were up to. I wanted to know.

At the same time, I was struggling with a crisis of entitlement. I had always felt music was a selfish life choice. Who was I to do what I loved all day long, with no regard to the bigger problems at hand? Was I really making a difference? All my life, I've been hearing about how classical music is dying, audiences aren't showing up, people are disinterested.

Soon it became clear to me that this couldn't be further from the truth. There is a huge audience out there; you just have to bring the show to them. We no longer live in an age where access to entertainment was available only to the moneyed and privileged few. So how can we keep approaching concerts the same way we did a hundred years ago? Why would anyone pay money to dress up and sit silently in a stuffy hall when Netflix exists?

The arts have a unique ability to unite people from every culture, creed, and class. A struggling single mother could benefit from getting lost in a Beethoven sonata just as much as, if not more than, her tech mogul counterpart. Children whose families and schools do not have the means to provide them an arts education are often the ones with the most to say, yet their voices have been stifled. American prisons are overflowing with people who have been told to relinquish their rights to beauty, humanity, and hope.

This is a broken system. Access to the arts is a fundamental human right, not a privilege. It is what separates man from beast; without it, we are merely animal.

Getting started is the hardest step. You have big visions and goals and believe so strongly in this thing you're trying to build, this thing that as of now only exists inside your weird, inscrutable, oft-caffeinated brain, a thing you've voiced aloud to maybe a dozen-or-so people who've all made noises of support back at you, but because you are self-deprecating to a fault you think the subtext is always an eye-roll and a "Yeah, good luck with that."

Then you start doing the actual research. Crafting a mission statement, learning the legalese, boggling at the countless mind-numbing red-tape-y hurdles that require surmounting before you can even start fundraising. You realize that as much as you want to do this all on your own, you need to relinquish your inner (and outer) control freak and ask for help.

Why do they have to make it so hard for people to do good?

#nonprofit #artsadvocacy #socialchange #artsintegration

Last night I saw Bill Burr at the Fox. From my perch in the Upper Dress Circle, squeezed between my none-too-diminutive boyfriend on the right and to my left a hulking tree of a man who devoured all the armrests and radiated body heat like a giant blue star, I peered down at the bald, irascible comedian while my face veered into hurts-from-laughing-too-much territory.

Burr traversed his well-known shtick--"Politically Incorrect But I See His Point And Hey We're All Sort Of Thinking It Anyway"--dismantling everything from the state of the #MeToo movement: "I was sexually assaulted last year when this woman came off stage right as I was about to go on, and she flicked me right in the tip of my dick. Where's my hashtag?" / "Does anyone out there really feel physically threatened by Aziz Ansari?" to the state of Georgia: "What kills me about you guys is that you look down on Alabama. That's like people from Vermont looking down on New Hampshire" / "It must be hard to be stuck with that accent, everyone just automatically knocks 40 points off your IQ" and peppering his rants with disclaimers of the "angry-because-I-can't-adequately-express-my-emotions" variety. He was even more pitiable because the whole time he was nursing a cold, often pausing mid-rant to cough into his sleeve, a box of Kleenex propped next to his water bottle.

Even more fascinating than watching Burr's act was observing the assortment of crowd he seemed to draw. Homogeneous only in skin color (come to think of it, apart from myself, I don't remember spotting a single other non-white person in the audience), they seemed to come in all ages and from all points on the socioeconomic spectrum. Before the show, the crowd lining up to pass through the theater's metal detectors was a curious blend of preppy, gangly teenage boys; their college-age counterparts (some of them un-ironically sporting MAGA hats); male twenty-somethings in identical J. Crew button-downs accompanied by their well-coiffed, over-dressed, over-perfumed dates (most of whom probably had no idea what they were getting themselves into and would most likely spend the evening only pretending to enjoy themselves, if that); nerdy hipsters whose wan pallor betrayed a fervent aversion to outdoor activities; and middle-aged couples in suits and pearls, still keeping up the facade of Southern propriety whilst willingly paying a deranged, stark-raving Yankee to defecate all over their Bible-belt morals.

The house was packed, the laughter generous, and as I sat there grinning as much from his subversiveness as his comedic wit, I couldn't help but recognize how someone like Burr is in the unique position of being adopted by both political wings. He dismantles arguments on both sides and has publicly shown distaste for both parties, yet each side fancies him a champion of their specific cause, an ally who ridicules the opposing team and tells it like it is. It's disheartening to note that, as far as we've come, you still need to be a white man in order for your jokes to be taken as gospel, to not only be seen as more than quaint observational humor but brandished as examples of serious political discourse on both sides of the aisle. It's an interesting position to be in, but Burr seems to have taken it all in stride, wielding his power as he's always done--with anger in his heart and indignation on his tongue.

#BillBurr #review #whitepeople #somanywhitepeople