Here we are in the second month of the U.S. government shutdown, with anxiety increasing in America and the world. The impact on the nation is profound and threatening to large numbers of organizations and people from all walks of life, especially small businesses and those living from paycheck to paycheck.
On Jan. 9, National Public Radio published an excellent article about the effects of the shutdown on the arts. The synopsis below is but a taste of the problems faced when artists are unable to continue their positive creative pursuits.
There are approximately 100,000 nonprofit groups in America suffering funding deficits. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are normally able to raise grants and other moneys to provide for artists and well functioning facilities. Not so now. Signs on federal galleries and museums indicate temporary closure, though as time goes on, worry mounts. Also, artists trying to secure grants are left out in the cold with nowhere to turn for direction. On its website, the NEA says it will honor all of its Fiscal Year 2019 grants and that it's accepting applications for 2020, but during the shutdown there's nobody working at either agency to answer questions.
There are examples in the NPR report that describe poignant fears and losses. A case is Hawaii's composer, Glenn McClure, who draws his musical landscape from nature and received a grant to work and live in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. He is not only unable to do his creative work but also has lost his living space.
Students at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn, take Shakespeare to New York's poorest schools through a program partly funded by the NEA. This Spring they plan to introduce students to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Though they're promised an NEA grant, they worry about when they'll receive it. Director Dorothy Ryan says, "The question about when the National Endowment for the Arts will be distributing funds really hits home for us."
The real costs of the shutdown, tangible and intangible, may emerge over time. One hopes a more aware population will place a much greater value on the arts.
In memory of Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, her poem, "Wild Geese":
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Opportunities and events
• Friday, Feb. 1, 5-9 p.m. First Friday reception, Seasons on St. Croix Gallery, 401 Second St., Hudson. www.seasonsonstcroix.com
• Saturday, Feb. 9, 1-3 p.m., CAB's monthly open house/art receptions have a new date, Second Saturdays, Arts' House 108 E. Maple St., RF. www.riverfallscab.org
• Friday & Saturday, Feb. 15-16 & 22-23, 7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30), RF Community Theatre, One Act Extravaganza, Junior's Restaurant & Tap House, 414 S. Main St,, RF, tickets at the door. www.rfcommunitytheatre.org
• Saturdays, 7 p.m., RF CAB Barn Dance, Feb. 16, Rush River Ramblers; March 16, Wooly Buggers. RF Academy Gym, 439 W. Maple St. Adults $5, children 12 and under $2.50.
• Thursday, Feb. 21, 5:30 p.m. "Soup, Salad and Science," supper and program to stretch your knowledge and imagination at the fascinating juncture of arts and science. RF Public Library, 140 Union St. Free, registration required, 715-425-1830
• Monday, Feb. 18, Canadian Education Day on campus (Louis Riel Day in Canada). FFI 715-425-3911
• Friday, March 1, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jazz Festival, KFA Abbott Concert Hall, Jazz Ensemble Concert at 1 p.m. Guest Artist Canadian-born Ingrid Jensen, award-winning jazz trumpeter, composer, and recording artist. Co-sponsored by the UWRF Year of Canada.
• Friday, March 1, 7:30 p.m., Falcon's Nest, University Center, Jazz Club Concert, Jazz Faculty Group, Guest Artist Ingrid Jensen
• Saturday, March 2, 7:30 p.m., KFA, Abbott Concert Hall, Jazz Ensemble, Guest Artist Ingrid Jensen
• Tuesday, March 5, 5 p.m., 10th annual Bowls For Hope, UW-RF University Center, $25.00, $5 for children 12 and under, proceeds benefit River Falls Sunshine Fund. www.uwrf.edu/bowlsforhope