Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Cultural Center’s Arts Awards luncheon was today, and thanks to thoughtful friends at the Cultural Center, I was able to attend.
Though I like the arts awards, in some way they strike me as odd: a kind of quantifying of the unquantifiable. However, they generally have good speakers, and it is always gratifying to hear many of these people speak. Though my favorite still is the 2006 address given by Charles Landry. Not only did he have real, tangible ideas, his energy was infectious. Sometimes I still try to think about projects in the manner he might.
This year’s awards, beautiful objects in their own right, were designed by artist Grant Ward, the Keynote Speaker was Robert Lynch of the Americans for the Arts nonprofit agency, and the recipient of the Individual Arts Award went to Marty Lanahan of Regions Bank. Incidentally, when they showed video footage of her in her office, in several of the shots, she was seated in front of a Kurt Polkey piece, When I Grow Up, I Will Own America.
Robert Lynch spoke for maybe a half an hour, and the thrust of his speech was the integral role the arts have played in cultures across the ages. Among others, he cited the pyramids and the Parthenon—which, according to Lynch was divisive in it’s time, called “a wasteful and grandiose gesture.”
He also noted that there was a branch of the military, a secret branch composed entirely of “creatives.” This was the branch that infamously came up with the idea of inflatable tanks with which to fool the Nazis (because at that point, the Allies were short on lots of things). Lynch made the point that though the arts can be a “secret weapon,” that perhaps now is the time for them not to be so secret.
Though I agree with Lynch about the arts not being so secret, I’d like it if grant money wasn’t so secret too…or at least the process by which one is awarded it here in Jacksonville. But that might just be me and my sour grapes, after all, I was turned down for a grant last year…