Package of Passion

A friend of mine will deliver a commencement address in a few weeks.  In preparation, she has read and examined many commencement addresses given by others.   Regardless of the speaker, the setting, the approach, the platform, or the phrasing, the primary message for all of the speeches seems to be this: Follow your bliss.  Follow your passion.

As I unveil my newly designed web site and begin writing my new blog, this seems like a good time for me to introduce or reintroduce myself.  It occurs to me that one way of doing that is to share my passion with you.  Beginning in middle school I believed that my passion was for the arts.  I’ve only recently realized that my passion is for people.  The arts are the medium that I prefer in order to reach people.  It’s not just the arts themselves that I love — it’s the effect that the arts have.

I enjoy experiencing the arts with others.  I love seeing, feeling, and reacting to the arts as part of a group – big or small.  I enjoy the arts in a gallery or a concert hall, a park or a theatre, a community center or a museum, a barn or a classroom, a movie theatre or a living room.

As a former playwright, my passion for King Lear is not just that Shakespeare’s words are brilliant and multi-faceted. I have read this script in libraries, bookstores, classrooms, and bedrooms.  It always moves me.  I once had a librarian bring me a box of Kleenex.  But for me, reading the play doesn’t compare to experiencing it with live actors, surrounded by other people who are also reacting to the play, the passion, and their own emotions.

I feel the same way about comedy.  In my early 20’s I was asked to move out of an apartment building because my neighbors were bothered by the sound of my laughter.  They said I laughed too loudly.  Granted it was a cheap apartment with paper-thin walls.   Also, I was working in the theatre (acting) and living alone in a large city, so I would return to my apartment very late at night and read comedy to relax.  But as funny as a book, a play, or a television program can be — there’s nothing as funny to me as laughing in a room full of people who are also laughing.

I’ve learned a tremendous amount about visual arts through the use of those guided tours that play in my ears, but listening to the reactions, observations, thoughts, and comments of my museum companions is what truly enhances my pleasure.

My passion for the effect that the arts have on people, on their emotions, their lives, and their communities is why arts administration is so important to me.

For the arts to be part of our lives we must have knowledgeable and informed leaders. We must have skilled fundraisers working in development and we must have marketing experts who know how to keep the arts visible and accessible.  We must have people who understand the laws and regulations that apply to us so that we can stay compliant.  We must participate in advocacy and in the development of public policy.  We must be able to effectively listen to our communities, develop our strategic plans, and stay true to our missions.

Arts administration is what keeps the arts alive.  Strengthening and enhancing arts administration is my goal and my goal supports my passion.  That’s the complete package for me.

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