The Loss Of Culture In America
There’s an attack on culture throughout the United States these days and it all has to do with money, or lack thereof. It’s not that there are people going after it because they don’t like it; rather, they’re going after it because they don’t see its purpose when weighed against other things.
I live in the Syracuse, NY area, and we’re hearing that the state is looking to stop funding our symphony. The symphony has reacted by starting a campaign to raise funds from the community, which is fairly large, but the way I see it, if they’ve needed state funds to maintain their level of excellence up to now, and without a major improvement in the economy, there’s no way they could possibly get enough money to keep going as they have. Sure, we all expect ticket prices to rise, but there will be a breaking point where the casual attendee just isn’t going to pay.
It’s not just music that’s being attacked. Across the country museums and parks are also under assault. Last week there was a report that even the Grand Canyon could be closed this year; how does one close an entire canyon? Think about Yellowstone National Park; wouldn’t many people be upset if it were closed because of budget cuts? And of course there’s the Republican threat to pull funding from PBS and National Public Radio.
This country has always had a love-hate relationship with culture. Some people absolutely hate classical music, and don’t understand art either. Others love it and revel in the opportunity to take it in. The ability to absorb culture in such a fashion goes back more than 2,500 years to the Greek and Roman empires, and probably further than that with Indian and Chinese culture. It’s always been supported by the state, so to speak. And some of our greatest classical musicians were also sponsored in such a way; we wouldn’t have the music of Bach or Mozart without “governmental” backing.
By the way, we may as well mention the elimination of both music and art programs in schools as well, as many school budgets need to find places to eliminate spending. The idea that no one “needs” education in these areas is troubling, yet, as stated earlier, how does one measure the need of culture versus the need to learn how to read and how to calculate?
Here’s my stance on the issue. Culture is what helps a society grow and maintain itself. There’s already a drop in personal standards, as we see and hear more people cursing in normal conversation without regard for who’s around them. If it goes totally to only those who have the money to pay for it, if it can sustain itself in the first place, the rest of society will be far worse off in the long run.
Please, do whatever you can to help if you care. Obviously governments must do what they must do, so it’s up to everyone else. We don’t want to see these types of things go away for good.