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Filling a big void with the arts

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FROM THE MARGINS:
Filling a big void with the arts

By PATRICK AZADIAN
Glendale News Press

My friend Elissa Glickman, the director of marketing and resource development for the Alex Theatre, asked me the age-old question: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
She went on to make an analogy to the arts by asking: “If you create art and no one comes to see your work, is it still art?”

I personally think it is.

The more complicated question is that if you are the last human being on earth, will you be motivated to create art? And if you do, and there is no one there to judge it, is it still art? The same question can be posed to many other social situations.

If you like red Ferraris, and if you had the chance, would you drive one on a deserted island with no chance of escape and zero possibility of being seen? Would you still ride in the Italian masterpiece driving around the island at high speeds claiming you were doing this for yourself, and no one else? And would you still take a shower in the morning before getting into the car and nowhere to go?

Human beings are social animals. By this, I don’t mean we like to have big weddings or participate in poker nights now and then. But our existence is meaningless without the society around us. And many of the things we do — breathing, eating and bowel movements excluded — are a products of our social environment.

I understand where Elissa was going with her line of philosophical questioning. Because of her position she has an interest in promoting and championing the arts in our community. Her questions were leading to the plight of artists in our city. Glendale is rich with people who are dedicated to the many aspects of the arts. We have painters, visual artists, dancers, singers and many more. Yet, few people know about this talent. Many take their trade and exhibitions outside the borders of Glendale, where people are more receptive and conditions more favorable for growth and appreciation of the arts.

There has always been talk of a void in our city about supporting the arts. As in any other aspects of life, unless there is a movement or an organization driving a qualitative change in our lives, conditions are more
likely to remain unchanged.

But if the void is real and genuine, it is a matter of time before someone or something fills it.

According to Elissa, the Alex Theatre has plans to become a new nonprofit arts organization that will spread the word about local artists and their work. This new organization, the Glendale Arts Alliance, will be making its case at the Glendale Redevelopment Agency meeting in mid-April. Should the new organization get the blessing of the city, it will begin its new life as early as July 2008.

The arts alliance has pledged to work with artists, art organizations, businesses and the city to provide resources to help promote of their work. The organization will continue to manage and operate the Alex Theatre on behalf of the city.

In addition, the arts alliance plans to promote programs and activities, including workshops, concerts, lectures, exhibits, readings, performances and marketplaces. It will aim to generate support of the arts among financial stakeholders including donors, foundations, local businesses, corporate sponsors, educators, government agencies and residents.

The arts alliance will also aim to encourage collaboration of artists and arts organizations to take advantage of the scarce resources for the arts. The organization will collaborate with local educational institutions to
integrate the arts into student’s educational experience.

My uncle Ruben Amirian, a local artist and architect, always addresses this void regarding the arts whenever I run into him. I often ask myself how I can help fill this void, but as French-Algerian author and Nobel prize
winner Albert Campus said: “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”

The arts alliance can be that beginning. I am looking forward to seeing the void filled.

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PATRICK AZADIAN is a writer and the creative director of a local marketing and graphic design studio living in Glendale. He may be reached at respond@fromthemargins.net.

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