We are Survivors

By Anna Stange

Just in from Yahoo News: Stage performers are among the top
vanishing professions.

Boom and bust.  It’s a natural, systemic cycle in all aspects of our universe.  However, like the housing market, there are many causal factors that feed into the boom-bust cycle of the live entertainment ‘market’.  Easy money allowed housing prices to rise unnaturally high.  Perhaps ‘easy’ money has some influence on the cycle in the public performance market.  (What were people saying when the government quit funding the WPA?)

I’m not saying that personal ownership and market saturation of personal entertainment media don’t have a great deal of influence in the reduction of public, live performances – they do.  And many of us could better adapt to the newer media.  Some may not remember that before the 1980s, there was not a “children’s music market” to speak of.

But if our business as performers seems “off” in today’s economy, rest assured that the pendulum will swing.  We are humans, and in order to survive and thrive, we must have live, meaningful, and creative contact with others.  Singing, dancing, and making music all build community.  From very early times, humans have made music to communicate and build community ties.  Today’s world, though ever changing, is not so far from those early times.  Music and dance are natural to humans – to me, it seems like it must be encoded in our DNA.  You need only to watch a child for a short time to understand just how ingrained these things are.

If we don’t feel we’re succeeding, then we might need to change (something).  But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going about our work in the wrong way.  It may be that our expectations need to change.  Might it mean that fewer artists will be able to make their living as artists?  Probably yes.  From my limited experience traveling about, there is no better place to live than North America, and the US in particular, if you want to make your living as an artist.  But it is a luxury for a society to be able to “afford” full-time artists, and many Americans can’t afford luxury these days.

We may need to change our expectations, but we will survive, because we must. We are the lantern bearers.  We will “Pass It On.”  We will pass on the traditions, the skills, the joy, the strength, the spark, and the cultural “language” that the coming generations will need to carry on, to survive and thrive.  We will sing; we will dance; we will teach; we will share; and we will do this for ourselves and for all generations.  This is our hope and our strategy.  This will not change.

Anna Stange is a board member of The Children’s Music Network. 
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

1 comment

  1. Good article. There is no doubt children’s entertain, as far as performing, has taken a down turn in this economy. I have seen cut backs in all forms of live entertainment as well. What always concerns me most is whether or not the fact that children have little social or political power in out society contributes to the defunding of programs. Having been a public school music teacher for 12 years, I have experienced the comings and goings of funding for the arts. It seems that cuts come first to those with the least amount of say as well as financial benefit. So whether it’s mostly economic reasons or social ones, children’s musicians are most importantly advocates and the voice for the young.

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