Monday, July 2, 2012

Jazz & Media-Teenage Perspective

I thought I'd ask my 14 year-old daughter and her same-aged friend what they thought of the whole jazz/WGBH/media thing. Their response was thoughtful-and instructive.

Generally, I wanted to know if they thought that jazz should be left to fend for itself in the marketplace, whether its cultural importance merited some kind of small subsidy through the government, or if public media had a mission to carry it. I made sure they understood the disbursement of "discretionary" funds by Congress, the huge amount spent on the military, pork barrel projects, the small amount I was suggesting each person pay, etc. They seemed to understand.

They are both very into music. In fact, my daughter wants to be a singer. Despite that, neither one thought jazz or classical or any other kind of music should get tax subsidies. Without brow-beating them, I made the case as best I could, but each time, they said that there were more important basic things that should get funded first-the environment, hunger, housing, etc.

If you're invested in this jazz/media campaign-if a campaign it is-it's easy to get frustrated about the fact that to most people, the meaning and history of jazz carry little weight. But such perspectives have to be reckoned with.  Dismissiveness and glib responses will not carry the day. If you are actually interested in changing someone's mind, you have to respect what they have to say, persist, and trust that the weight of your position will eventually win out.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your point is well taken. However, a bigger point would be help the kids understand the full scope of government activities, subsidies, etc. Also the relative size of the various government expenditures, especially highlighting the miniscule culture budget compared to the amounts which are discussed in regards to more publicized political debates. And finally, the role of governments around the world in supporting culture (of all kinds), and how that relates to the quality of life for all of us.

Jack Bernstein said...

OK This is an entirely reasonable approach in a reasoned society.
But is that what we're dealing with? Friday's straight on analysis sorta implied not.

Anonymous said...

OK This is a rational approach in a reasoned society. But Friday's right-on post sorta implied not. Persistence yes, but the weight of the position/petition may not carry the day confronting a lead wall! Trust too can be suspect if it's not reciprocated.

Steve Provizer said...

What weapons do jazz advocates have in their quiver? Not money, not a broad base of support. A narrow, but deep base of support and strong beliefs. Confrontation is fine. Thursday night is a good example, but any result in favor of more jazz on WGBH will come from a mutually constructed solution (a 2-state solution, if you will). People have to come to the table.

I would point out the word "persist" that I used in the piece.

Cherrie said...

Steve, I appreciate your effort to bring your kids into the discussion. I got similar results with my jazz sax majoring son. Having worked in the arts/culture environment for many years, I'm sympathetic to the financial issues WGBH faces. That said, enlightened intentions lead to inspiring results...not what's happening there now. I've wondered if this decision was aired in their recent public board meetings and what, if any, discussion was heard. I too favor the two-state, win-win approach, while applauding our very cathartic and passionate gathering on Thursday.

Steve Provizer said...

Cherrie, Thanks for your comment, which gave me an interesting idea for a post...