Monday, February 09, 2009

My Letter to the Tulsa World

Tulsa World
P.O. Box 1770
Tulsa, OK 74102-1770

Re: Include the Arts in National Economic Recovery Efforts

Dear Tulsa World:

As Congress considers the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the arts and culture sector must be included. The arts are essential to the health and vitality of our communities. They enhance community development; spur urban renewal; attract new businesses; draw tourism dollars; and create an environment that attracts skilled, educated workers and builds a robust 21st century workforce.

Nonprofit arts organizations such as the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera, and Theatre Tulsa, to name but a few, are proud members of the business community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services within the community, and involved in the marketing and promotion of their cities. In fact, there are more full-time jobs supported by the nonprofit arts than are in accounting, public safety officers, even lawyers and just slightly fewer than elementary school teachers.

According to Americans for the Arts, a $50 million investment to the National Endowment for the Arts will provide critical funding to save 14,422 jobs from being lost in the U.S. economy. This is based on the ability of the NEA to leverage $7 in additional support through local, state and private donations, for every $1 in NEA subsidies.

There are approximately 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations, which spend $63.1 billion annually. Without an economic stimulus for the nonprofit arts industry, experts expect about 10% of these organizations (ranging from large arts institutions like museums and orchestras to small community-based organizations in suburban, urban and rural areas) to shut their doors in 2009 - a loss of 260,000 jobs.

In a report released in mid-January, the National Governor's Association stated, "Arts and culture are important to state economies. Arts and culture-related industries, also known as "creative industries," provide direct economic benefits to states and communities: They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases." A recent arts economic impact study in Tulsa showed that every person attending an arts performance generates 27.47 for our economy. If we conservatively estimate last night's performance of Cinderella at 2,100 attendees, than last night's performance alone brought $57,687 into Tulsa's economy.

Then-NEA Chairman Dana Gioia issued the following statement prior to his departure, "Arts organizations have been hit enormously hard by the current recession. They've seen their support drop from corporations, foundations, and municipalities. This infusion of funds will help sustain them, their staffs, and the artists they employ. We are hopeful that Congress and the new administration will support this important investment."


Martha Mattes

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

President Obama Gets the Mad Treatment

This is for anyone who (like me) ever had a teacher confiscate a copy of Mad Magazine back in grade school or junior high. I suspect many a teacher confiscating copies of Mad Magazine in the classroom is bursting out in laugther.

You know you've made it when Mad Magazine spoofs you on their cover!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Welcome, Mr. President, Michelle, Malia and Sasha-At Long Last!

At long last. Barack Obama is President of the United States. Intelligence, common sense and decency have returned to the White House. We have every reason to believe the Obama administration will work for all Americans-not just "my base," as W told his oil cronies at a fundraiser.

There is every reason to believe the Obama administration will be far friendlier to the arts than the previous administration. It is notable that the Obama campaign had a detailed position paper on the arts, while the McCain campaign had none. I am heartened by many of my fellow musicians and artists who are speaking out now about the need to promote the arts in our country, and the creative energy being expended to determine the best course of action for helping arts groups facing hard times-and educating our country as to why the arts are important (e.g., the economic impact of the arts).

In the meantime, the reality of the new Obama administration is finally beginning to sink in. These past few days I have been alternating between giddiness and pinching myself to make certain this is real. My friends and colleagues have had the same reaction. Perhaps this is a reaction to going from the ridiculous to the sublime, the experience of feeling beaten down by eight years of the Worst President Ever (not to mention his policies favoring the privileged class), of having a President I whose candidacy I supported from the day he announced his bid, my personal pride in having a President from my home city of Chicago, the rapture of our fellow world citizens at Obama's presidency-to the promise of a person of color being our Commander In Chief.

I won't go into the myraid of issues to be addressed-that would require several more blog posts! Suffice it to say that I agree 100% with conductor Bill Eddins' assessment of the Bush administration in his January 20, 2009 post to Sticks and Drones that "(i)t has been a horrible 8 years for this country for a lot of reasons."

Finally, for all the yammering of the "Christian" Right about "Traditional Family Values" (which usually means subordination of women to men and/or denying the right of same-sex couples to marital rights and responsibilities), the new First Family exhibits true family values. In the coverage of the inaugural balls I was touched by the very obvious love displayed between Barack and Michelle Obama-and by Joe and Jill Biden. Throughout the campaign I have observed how Barack reacts to Michelle when she's speaking-how he looks at her, listens to her and obviously respects her opinions and considerable intelligence. January 20, 2009 also displayed, for the world to see, the great love Barack and Michelle have for their daughters. How refreshing that we have a First Family that doesn't need to talk about Family Values, because they live those values every day.
Welcome to the White House, Barack, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and Marian (our new First Grandmother). We're thrilled you're there. Thank you for stepping up to serve our country when we need you the most.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 in Review and Reflection

My friend Lee decided to do this this year, so I'm following Lee's suggestion. This is a good way to reflect the year that's passed, and I encourage others to do likewise.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?

Other than having had oral surgery to extract wisdom teeth about 25 years ago, I had never had surgery. I had three surgeries in 2008. The first surgery was a D & C to get a sample of uterine lining after my OB/GYN became alarmed at a thickening in the lining. Fortunately, no cancer was found. The second was to remove my gall bladder. I'd been having increasingly severe gall bladder attacks over the past several years, and the gastroenterologist advised me the gall bladder had to go. The third surgery, and the only one requiring an inpatient stay, was a hysterectomy. These surgeries helped me get over my fear of surgery. I felt very well cared for at St. John, and really appreciated the nuns who came to offer a prayer. I also came to appreciate how wonderful Fr. Joseph is with pastoral care-the Sacrament of Unction was so very comforting, as well as the communion Fr. Joseph brought prior to my hysterectomy. I was very much cheered by the Trinity parishioners who visited in the hospital, called and sent cards-and the Flower Ministry, which brought flowers from the High Altar after one Sunday service.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make more for next year?

I have not made resolutions for the past several years, because they always get broken. But I have resolved for 2009 to get less cluttered-to get all the old clothing, shoes, books, and other such stuff that are taking up space out of the house. I've already taken a couple of loads of clothing to a nearby collection box for the Margaret Hudson Program (a program for pregnant and parenting teens in Tulsa).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What trips did you take?

Due to my health challenges and multiple surgeries, I didn't take any real trips this year. I did make a couple of overnight trips to Oklahoma City for ballet performances.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

I'd like to have a healthy relationship with a special man who loves and respects me for who I am, and who is able and willing to make a commitment.

I'd like to have an actual vacation and get away from Tulsa for at least a week.

I'd like to have the air conditioning in my car back.

I'd like to be living in a house closer to downtown.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I'm not good at remembering dates, but there will be several events etched in my memory.

The historic 2008 election. Obviously, I will never forget where I was when MSNBC projected Barack Obama the winner of the presidential election. I will also never forget the watch party at the moment when MSNBC projected Obama to be the presumptive Democratic nominee.

The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra's performance of Mahler Symphony #5 (first time ever for that work in Tulsa), and the 20-minute ovation following the performance.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Writing a successful Major Grant Support application for funding from the Oklahoma Arts Council.

9. Best books you read in 2008?

The Audacity of Hope

10. Song lyric that most reflects 2008?

I've been wracking my minibrain, thinking I couldn't come up with any. But, for some reason, Paul Simon's 1975 hit, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, comes to mind. While the song references ending a romantic relationship, I see the parallells to ending what was (with the exception of Barack Obama's election) a very bad year, and ending the eight-year Bush/Cheney Reign of Terror.

The problem is all inside your head
She said to me
The answer is easy if you
Take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle
To be free
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover

She said it’s really not my habit
To intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning
Won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

She said it grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do
To make you smile again
I said I appreciate that
And would you please explain
About the fifty ways

She said why don’t we both
Just sleep on it tonight
And I believe in the morning
You’ll begin to see the light
And then she kissed me
And I realized she probably was right
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover