Artifice posed the following question to various arts/cultural denizens: If you could ask an omnipotent being with a white beard and red suit for one granted wish for Mobile’s arts community in 2015, what would it be?
The most obvious answer of straight cash was off the table. Here are their replies:
Bob Burnett, executive director of the Mobile Arts Council
“So much of what we have in our community is taken for granted, from artists on the streets to garage bands and slam poets, from museum collections to what is on our walls at home, from church choirs to temple cantors, high school bands and second-line brass bands to classical musicians and opera singers.
Our community needs to take stock and invest in Mobile’s quality of life. If the people of our great city recognize the treasure trove of cultural riches, then none of our cultural organizations would be struggling for survival. Financial contributions are certainly important, but we also need participants, behind the scenes and in the spotlights. We need collectors and patrons. We need more creative people to help push each other to become the best that they can be.”
Deborah Velders, executive director of Mobile Museum of Art
“The creation of a public art advisory commission comprised of qualified, experienced visual art professionals in the field to go along with bold initiatives supporting art and culture programs and projects in Mobile. I would like to see more support for challenging contemporary art (and artists!) — visual, music, theater, film, dance, literature — all the arts. That would have to include more of the sense of humor, mischief and irreverence Mobile is known for — applied to the arts!”
Scott Wright, general director of Mobile Opera
“For Christmas I wish Santa would bring Mobile Opera the magic words and the delivery platform to convince the public (as well as the private) sector of the importance of the arts in the educational, cultural, and even the financial health of our community. It is a vision we are losing. If we could regain it, I believe the appreciation and support we all need would follow quite easily. The arts make our little town a great city.”
“That and a Red Rider BB Gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.”
L. Craig Roberts, architect, author and historic preservationist
“My wish is that all public high schools should have required art appreciation classes which would emphasize, painting, sculpture, architecture as well as all aspects of the art and design of Mardi Gras.”
Lucy Gafford, artist, instructor for the ChARTing New Directions program
“This Christmas, I wish for enthusiastic participation and support for the arts in the community (from the creative community and the ‘normies’). Help beautify your surrounding area in your spare time, go see local artists’ work, encourage new and interesting ideas. Work where your passion lies, and figure out a way to spread happiness through it. Money is always nice, and many of us are ‘starving,’ but regardless of the profit, I want us to work together this coming year and complete some large scale projects that really rock Mobile.”
Danielle Juzan, author, columnist, actress and playwright
“Well, theater is very much on my mind right now, so I’ll ask Santa for live theater downtown, whether that be intimate pop-up events in an empty storefront or something more ambitious in a dedicated space.”
Tom Perez, author, playwright and founder of South of the Salt Line
“In my stocking I’d like Santa to leave 10,000 new residents to Mobile from more active art scenes such as Houston, Atlanta, and Charleston, businessmen/women and entrepreneurs who realize the arts cost money to produce, who are willing to pay top dollar for quality arts, who volunteer to support the arts, who teach our current populace that when a German automaker is looking for an American city to build their new assembly plant, they don’t give a damn who won the last Iron Bowl or which debutante is presented at the Camellia Ball as the next Queen of Mardi Gras.”
Gideon C. Kennedy, filmmaker, head programmer for South Alabama Film Festival
“While the list is long for improvements in the arts in Mobile, I’m happy to say that most of what we don’t have immediately I see us working toward. Namely, better connection and support between organizations, less cliquishness, more venues, etc.
“The biggest thing I could ask for would be advertising, marketing and PR support across the board. Many artists and organizations here are making great works and putting on great events but the true shame is that too often the final push, getting the word out about that event or taking that artwork to market seems to get the least attention.
“Also a non-profit ad council, run by local experts in the field and used as a school-credited training ground for those pertinent departments at our local universities. This would then be made available to eligible organizations, venues, artists, etc. to help yell it from the rooftops and gather the crowds that would come out, if they only knew.”
Celia Mann Baehr, CEO of Mobile Symphony
“My wish would be for everyone to recognize the value of teaching music to children beginning in Pre-K. The U.S falls further behind the rest of the world in academic achievement each year. More music instruction — in some cases any music — would help solve many of the problems that schools currently spend large sums of money trying to remedy. It would be wonderful if everyone recognized that learning music boosts academic performance, helps children with learning disabilities and improves school attendance. The study of music involves processing sound, which is the key to language, reading and focus in the classroom.”