Patrick got a call on 6 August. He was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts....to attend a conference call. Set for four days later....it was to be hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve crowd.
This conference call? It would end up including “a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!”
This was likely the first hint of something that you really didn't need to worry about or think about.
So the call would come.....75 guests. You could label the group as street-artists, filmmakers, art galleries, music venues, musicians and music producers, writers, poets, actors, independent media outlets, and marketers.
The opening of this message? It was a call....labeled as an opportunity for those in the art community....to be part of a message to the nation, in several topic areas. You can guess the topics: “health care” and “energy and environment.”
The theme throughout the call? A soft reminder....the ability of artists to “shape the lives” of people.
At some point....you start to remember that the NEA was never created to push policy. You can't find a single moment that this was written down or considered in the charter of the NEA.
Then toward the end of this conference call....came these uneasy words:
“This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… “
I sat there for half an hour after reading the article. All I could contemplate....is 1938.
It was 1938....it was simple to convince folks of just about anything. They were naive...they were without a mental compass.....they wanted a fantastic dream to believe in.
The NEA was a vehicle for artist to hang their hat on and get government grants to work on their art....not their politics. By taking a stand like this....the leadership of the NEA invites a destruction element. It would seem like that artists would grasp the meaning of this conference call. But if they don't....they may well find themselves compared to Germans in 1938....who lost an entire generation because of their foolishness.