I found myself, on an ‘empty bucket’ day, with the first real chill of the season blowing against me, losing myself. I was on the bus stop and sad for no tangible reason. Then, something happened. My head nodded rhythmically. I tapped my foot in the same time. It was comforting. It was familiar. It was music.
When I consider music, an artform so pervasive in my world, as an advocacy tool, I cannot help but conjure images of a motley crew of young folk who have been paraded in front of a crowd and are desperately in search of something that remotely resembles harmony. Such an image almost always touches my heart. It is, indeed, a beautiful thing to witness. But what of the heart-rending lyrics of Soul music? What of the deeply percussive reverberation of House; the aggression of Jazz; the inevitable uplift offered by Gospel; the audacity of HipHop, Rock and Metal? Where do those independent artists, who, for pennies, bleed their truth on any available stage, fit into this paradigm of advocacy and justice?
Peter Bruun, in his September 13th post, said this in an attempt to define “art”: “I believe the notion of art is itself a construct; a cultural invention to imply certain shared understandings on value, meaning, and status…”. Assuming this construct (art) is indeed about the assignation of value, and there is value in music as a form of entertainment (as evidence by the gross amount of money moving through the mainstream industry), why, then, am I not, often enough, engaged in discourse regarding the spiritually restorative value of music?
I wonder what happens if we choose to see those things, like popular music, as accessible avenues in our pursuit of justice. If an aggressive song puts me in an aggressive mood, and likewise, a love song is evocative of love, shouldn’t I leverage that state of being?
While we are not necessarily creating out of a sense of social consciousness, it still strikes me as appropriate that we might leverage said creations, nonetheless.
The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance has begun collecting submissions for their new grant: The Rubys. The Rubys was created this year with start-up funding from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation to provide project-based funding for new and established artists in the Baltimore area. Performing, visual, media, and literary artists who are doing work intended to impact their community are encouraged to apply for The Rubys Grant. The program will award up to $10,000 to an artist in each of the four grant categories: Performing Arts, Media Arts, Visual Arts, and Literary Arts.
To be eligible for the grant, an artist must be:
- A resident of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, or Howard County at the time of application and when the grant is awarded.
- A U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.
- At least 21 years old.
- An active practicing artist who has pursued their profession in their chosen discipline for more than three years
Applications are currently being accepted and the application deadline is February 2, 2014. For more information on the application process, to apply, or for further information about the grant please visit here.