This is a challenge! I challenge every reader of TheRoot to go out and support the arts this week. I challenge you to see a film at your nearby arthouse cinema, go to a gallery, search the papers for a play, and/or go to the symphony or museum. And take people with you. Find out about group discounts. It's still Black History Month, so scour the papers, there's plenty to do. It's literally a national emergency.
The Detroit Institute of the Arts recently cut 56 full-time employees in order to stay afloat during the rocky economy. The DIA, like many art institutions nationwide, struggle with bridging the gap between operating costs and revenue. That means a decade of low attendance and ticket sales are finally catching up with these institutions and it's not good. From theater companies to dance companies to galleries to movie theaters, doors are closing and the arts are on the verge of extinction. Certainly, part of the problem can be traced to cultural underrepresentation at some of these entities and there's a way to change that. But I'm talking about cities like St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Dallas where the representation is amok.
I often hear black people say, "I'm not interested in any paintings, I just want to go somewhere and laugh", or "A jazz quartet what? Man, you're crazy. A Lil' Wayne concert is all I need." I'm embellishing, of course, but you understand my point. The black community needs to work harder at finding the arts in their towns and cities and support them. And I'm sorry, when I say art I don't mean watching the faux-wise Madea and her elastic boobs bounce across a stage. With all due respect, Madea is a money-machine and offers a quick fix for a community resigned to low expectation. No, I'm talking about an effort to participate in art that's created as a means to sustain culture and challenge you to embrace and/or ponder your own humanity. We must support the arts.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.