Now go clean up a mess.

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. Traveling a lot. I have to interrupt my descriptions of the first McManus performance, because I attended Arts Northwest October 17-20, and it was my honor to be a master of ceremonies for two of the Juried Showcases. At the end of the last showcase, I made some remarks that I had written earlier. Several presenters and artists wanted a copy of them. So here they are:
“Bob Greenwood, founder of Sun Ergos, a theatre and dance company, believes that throughout history the job of artists has been to clean up the messes.
Give you a recent example: schools are cutting music and arts programs and classes left and right. As a result, to help clean up that mess, more and more artists are expanding their outreach activities and including innovative and accelerated learning motifs.
Bottom Line Duo now has a contract provision requiring that Bottom Line presenters arrange for educational outreach to the schools, at no cost to the presenter. As a touring actor performing the stage Comedies of Patrick F. McManus, I get more and more inquiries about the acting workshop I do, “How to create truth in a world of lies,” and I don’t charge for it anymore.
In the absence of school programs, students seem more enthusiastic than ever. Missoula Children’s theatre has never been busier. In Spokane, JayDean Ludiker, a noted fiddler and teacher, now sees more than 100 students each week.
Bluegrass bands in eastern Washington and northern Idaho, featuring parents and young performers, self taught, are popping up faster than you can say Appalachia and the 1930s.
In a very tangible and visceral way, the artists showcased here can remind us and our audiences that spirit, humor, relationship and authentic expression can sustain us in these bad times.
Maybe we can’t clean up the big messes: an economy skewed to benefit the rich, financial institutions failing miserably and a lack of civility in politics that hasn’t been seen since Caligula roamed the roads of Rome.
But these messes provide us with an incredible opportunity. As artists and presenters we get to help and encourage our audiences make their way through this complex and depressing morass. With laughter. With emotions that resonate to the core. With powerful responses that can enlighten even the darkest parts of our being. We’re kind of like a family working together, and the audience becomes our children, our brothers, our parents and finally, us. We celebrate life in the midst of passages. To smile, I need only recall the distinctive and delightful sound of the laughter of Janet Bradley, co-founder of Arts Northwest and Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre, who died unexpectedly this spring.
We become what artists….and those who enable them….have always been: the people in your life who tell you the truth. That you were born radiant, that you remain radiant and that you will always be radiant.
Now go clean up a mess.”

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