Editorial: With art, let’s wash off the dust together

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Reports of the demise of arts under President Trump might be greatly exaggerated.

It’s true President Trump’s proposed budget in March called for an end to federal funding of four important agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

From Beethoven to Bert and Ernie, the shockwaves reverberated. That the president would pay for a major military buildup and heightened border security at the expense of the arts and humanities made the proposed cuts even tougher for some to swallow.

We are ardent supporters of the arts and have many times felt the refreshing truth of Pablo Picasso’s statement, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” But we think that even if some of President Trump’s cuts are implemented, a cultural death need not be imminent.

If you were one of many North Idahoans who witnessed the Saturday or Sunday performances at the Fox Theater in Spokane, you’d probably agree. Large crowds paid well for the privilege — and it was indeed a privilege — to enjoy Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade to Music” and Verdi’s “Requiem.” The event combined four superb opera soloists, three choirs and the Spokane Symphony, all under the direction of Conductor Eckart Preu.

Audiences were also reminded that efforts are underway to reach thousands of school-age children throughout the region, sharing with them first-hand experience with music — experience that is almost certain to teach them just one of the ways to wash the dust of daily life from their souls.

In our view, whatever deficit this or any administration might create for arts and humanities funding needs to be offset by people who care. By that we mean philanthropists capable of major sponsorships, as well as other patrons showing their support with their eyes, ears and checkbooks.

If you love music, attend concerts like last weekend’s and see about becoming a season ticket holder. Support local museums and bask in cultural opportunities. If Bert and Ernie are your thing, donate directly to the PBS station you watch. Don’t simply call up your favorite program or music free on the internet and call it good, because it isn’t.

We live in an age when immersion into beauty — beautiful art, music, literature — is as helpful as ever in keeping perspective. There’s chaos in this overwhelming information age, and the arts provide an infallible anchor.

But we also live in a time of entitlement, expecting someone else to pay for our pleasures. If you love the arts, please feel free to pay your way.

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