Archive for January, 2013

Greatness Right in Our Own Backyard

January 28, 2013

As I sat in Legacy Hall, a very fine state-of the-art, beautifully and creatively designed music hall at the River Center, listening to two world-class musicians, I had to reflect on what we have right here in Columbus, Georgia. 

Sergiu Schwartz is one of the finest violinists in the world. Le Soleil, Canada, calls him”one of the best violinists of his generation.”  Alexander Kobrin, the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano, is the winner of international piano competitions including the Van Cliburn award. There was a time when the only time we got to hear such internationally acclaimed artists in person was when they came to Columbus on tour. These brilliant musicians live here. The Columbus State University Schwob School of Music added them to the school’s faculty.

The audience Sunday gave them a roaring ovation after they finished their concert of works by Beethoven, Dvorak, and Brahms. They returned the favor by playing not one, but two encores.  And just think, they are just two  of a number of great performers that call  Columbus their homes right now. 

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The Case for the Arts made By George Del Gobbo

January 22, 2013

Columbus Symphony conductor George Del Gobbo listed the reasons that “the arts” are so important for a community’s well-being when speaking to the Rotary Club of Columbus.  He got specific and told how they are benefiting Columbus. It’s gratifying to note that he didn’t confine the reasons to economic benefits. In fact, he led his list of seven reasons the arts should be supported with  how they affect our humanity.

He said the arts help us express our values, help us heal when we are difficulty, allow us to express “the essence of what it is to be human. When you hear a symphony by Beethoven, look at a statue by Michelangelo, or a painting by Van Gogh, or read a sentence by Shakespeare, you are being touched, you are communicating with the most sublime human spirits who ever lived.”

He went on to tell us how arts build stronger communities, lead to more social cohesion, increased child welfare, and lower poverty rates. “A vibrant arts community ensures that young people are not to be raised in a pop culture or a tabloid market place.”

The arts even improve your health. They have healing benefits, resulting in “shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication.”

They help prepare the workforce. “We are told that creativity is among the top skills sought out by employers.’

“The arts lead to improved academic performance in the schools. Numerous studies have shown that students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, lower dropout rates, and even better attitudes about community service.” However, he goes on to say, Rand Corporation research shows that  the arts have been systematically cut from the public school curriculum.”

See what happens when you elect a bunch of dumb-ass Neanderthals to school boards. He didn’t say that. I did.

He did get around to the economic benefits of a “creative industry.”

Dun and Bradstreet reported in 2011 that almost 800,000 businesses in the United States were involved in the creation or distribution of arts. In Columbus “the Arts and Culture industry supports over 1000 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs. ” They generate a payroll of more than 13 million dollars. The arts community in Columbus has an economic impact of over 50 million dollars per year.

Finally, he points out that the arts are good for tourism. They are ideal tourists, staying longer, spending more.

He makes a very strong case for the positive effects of practicing and being exposed to the arts. He didn’t have to sell me. My life has been enriched by the arts for a very long time, and we are so fortunate to have a vibrant arts culture in Columbus.  The opportunity to attend numerous outstanding live musical and theatrical events, as well as outstanding museums, is here.

However, one has to  be exposed to the arts to learn to appreciate them.   Communities with schools that provide early exposure so that all children, not just those who are fortunate enough to be born to arts-loving parents, are on the right track.

At Least it’s a Start

January 16, 2013

The greatest value in the Georgia Senate approving a rule that Senators can’t accept gifts from lobbyists of more than a $100 is that it kept the issue in the public  eye. It really doesn’t stop Senators from being showered with gifts by lobbyists trying to influence how lawmakers vote. It doesn’t specify the number of gifts so a lobbyist can give any number of gifts valued at a hundred dollars each. It also doesn’t apply to junkets.

Columbus Senator Josh McKoon, who is leading the movement to strengthen ethics laws, isn’t going to let up on getting some effective ethics legislation passed in this session and thinks the rule  change  is a first step in the process. Let’s hope he can get it done.  Georgia is one of only three states that still allow  unlimited lobbyists’ gifts.

The Falcons Win a Big One, but Still…

January 13, 2013

While I am quite happy the Atlanta Falcons pulled off a thrilling win with a field goal in the last few seconds of he game with Seattle and will now get a chance to win the NFC Championship  with San Francisco next week, I am still opposed to the spending of taxpayers dollars to help build a new billion-dollar stadium for the team.  After all, it is a privately owned profitable business and asking for a $300 million dollar state contribution is a bit much.  The issue is scheduled to come up in the state  legislature this year.  Meanwhile, I’ll be pulling for the team next week. 

Profound for Monday

January 7, 2013

It’s Monday, so I guess I need to come up with something to say. Then again, I don’t want to say something just to be saying something. I need to come up with something profound.

My coughs getting better. That’s only profound for me and my friends and family.

What can I say that is profound for everyone?

We need more ethical, just, and moral government, and not for just a few, but for everyone. Thankfully, some of Georgia’s state legislators also believe that, or, at least say they do. State Senator Josh McKoon says he believes that and is willing to  stand up for it. Let’s hope he gets support, and let’s hope we get more than window dressing in the bill that gets passed, if one gets passed. 

What else can I say that is profound? I didn’t say original, just profound. 

We have term limits for president of the United States, and we have term limits for governor of Georgia and Alabama, and probably other states. But, what we don’t have  and what we need most is term limits for national and state legislators. Something really needs to be done to encourage lawmakers to do the right thing for all of us, instead of just pandering to those who pour money into their campaigns.

Let’s see if I can come up with one more profound statement. How about this: we need news media who seriously do investigative reporting by reporting the stuff that somebody doesn’t want you to know. The internet showed promise in providing a platform for reporting stories that the mainstream media either ignored or was afraid to report. It turned out a lot of  misinformation and some out-and-out lies, were being posted on the web. You really have to check out sources to make sure what you are reading  is true.

Okay, now we can stop the profound parade and get ready for the really big story, one that will no doubt win the rating wars tonight: Alabama and Notre Dame playing for the national college football title. I have connections with Alabama so I’ll be pulling for the Crimson Tide.