Michelin makes tires. They have made tires for a very long time. It is difficult for us to think of a time when they needed to come up with an idea to get people to drive more in order that their tires might be used more thereby requiring people to buy more of them. (Not a problem today.) One of the brilliant things that they did (and still do today) is to start rating restaurants. This was not just a nice service that a benevolent company performed for travelers who want to find a good meal wherever they happen to be, it was an attempt to get people to drive to the next town, province, state, country, or what have you in order to make their way to a destination restaurant. How did they get there? On Michelin tires. Today we think nothing of driving to the next town in order to get a good meal. They may not have been solely responsible for this change in our cultural driving habits, but they did help. They did something.
That is the idea behind the Academy of Culture and Arts at St. Sebastian. Far too many of our churches order their “art” out of catalogues. Few are truly trained in writing or performing music for the liturgy. Trained organists are disappearing from the musical scene. And the only people really paying for “art,” and thereby providing the only meat on which our artists can chew (both figuratively and literally) is the secular world. There is becoming a dearth of Christian and in particular Catholic artists.
The problem is almost too vast to imagine. Nobody can solve it. But all of us can do something to make it better, to start forming a culture, to start planting seeds in order that some day things will be different. We can’t just be happy to point out the problem. We must do something.
The Academy is one of these efforts. We are going to provide people of all ages in our community the opportunity to learn and be exposed to the arts. We hope (eventually) to be offering a wide range on instruments, others arts, and languages, to provide a quality concert series to inspire, bring in speakers, and create opportunities to present the arts not only so that decently trained artists might be formed, but even for those who will find themselves not quite as talented as they might hope, will be able to appreciate good art and in appreciating it will, when they are adults, hopefully not settle for ordering their art out of catalogues and will want to train their children in the arts.
Several arts organization are coming together in order to make this project work and it will be a slow process of growing and trying. Eventually it is hoped that a blue print for such an academy, which is a bit more than a school enrichment program, might be offered to other schools that are interested in starting such an endeavor. As public funds start to dry up for such important ventures in our public schools, we need to ramp up. Art is far too important to let fester.
Starting such a program takes a lot of resources. If you (or anyone you can think of) can be of assistance, please let me know! There is a fund raiser coming up this weekend ($15!) if you are interested. See more information here.