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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

AAME Gala remarks

Zane Myers (right) is the president of Arts Alliance Mountain Empire.
Zane Myers (right) is the president of Arts Alliance Mountain Empire.
Additional photos below »

July 01, 2015

Editor's note: Those people in attendance at the AAME Arts Achievement Awards Gala were impressed by the passion with which Zane Myers, president of AAME, spoke about the importance of the arts in our lives and communities. We asked him if his introductory remarks could be printed for a wider arts audience.

Whether one chooses to forge a career as a working artist, support the arts administratively, consume art, or — my personal favorite — pay for it, a life committed to the arts is one that can only be described of as a life of irrational passion.

We all know that art can bring us to a place of joy — a place of innocent, childlike wonder. It continually teaches us how to be present, how to let go, how to be alive. And, perhaps most importantly, it invites us to participate in mystical transcendence, to lose ourselves and to enjoy being intoxicated by truth.

We are also acutely aware of the challenges of a life in support of the arts, as those challenges catapult and hurl themselves directly and unapologetically into our hearts and souls and minds – which they do, repeatedly and often.

For the artist, it's the constant striving for perfection: that scale was executed without its requisite crescendo, that line reading could have captured more truth, that third arabesque could have been slightly more extended, that one brush stroke could have been far more subtle and so been more quietly powerful.

For the arts administrator, it's never having enough money. During the course of one's working day, an arts administrator is expected to exercise the business acumen of J.P. Morgan so as to make budget, soothe the nerves of an anxious constituent over some mid-level issue whose order of precedence has deteriorated, and whose fate has been long-decided. And, via incantation, summon and invoke the spirits of both Sophocles and Nostradamus so as to divine and prognosticate what an audience will buy a ticket to see.

For the arts advocate, it's the constant visioning and re-visioning of the organization's trajectory based on a set of utterly unpredictable and volatile external factors; the task of building unified consensus of one's board; and the greatest of that set of inimitable pleasures: the daily strong-arming of one's business and social peers to write very large checks.

And, for the arts educators, it's finding new and even newer ways to inspire one's students; those that have talent, those that have none; those that are smart, those that are not, and those who just don't care.

So, with both these joys and challenges, we are all required – in our imperfect flesh – to find ways of managing the Herculean task of navigating a life of commitment to the arts. Because, you see, our Arts Mistress is divine, unrelenting, rapturous, impossible and utterly awe-inspiring. When asked what it was like to have a long career in the arts, pianist Vladimir Ashkenazi replied, "It's slavery. Sweet slavery ... but slavery nonetheless." And in the spirit of that answer I am reminded of other words that are just as relevant: steward, servant, service, and the one that I think we all intimately know – surrender.

Because the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, these five honorees, and by extension the rest of us here tonight, have consigned ourselves to a life of indentured servitude to the Arts. What is crucial to remember though is that our servitude can create life-altering and indelible results in the consciousness of others that will never disappear. These five honorees and we are here to serve the words, the director, the melody, the author, the canvas, the chord progression, the choreographer — but above all and most importantly, with every chord, and relevé, and recitation, and brush stroke, and instruction to one's student who just won't listen, we are here to serve humanity. We are servants to the ear that needs quiet solace, and to the eye that needs the consolation of beauty; servants to the mind that needs pointed inquiry, or desperate repose; servants to the heart that needs an invitation to soaring flight or a safe landing; and servants to the soul that needs fearless, relentless enlightenment or merely quiet contemplation.

So Deanna, Charles, Val, Rick and Laura Ann, thank you. Thank you for submitting yourselves unselfishly and without predicated condition to the rigors and discipline and relentless commitment required to become artists in your own right. Thank you for your leadership of our most cherished cultural institutions. Thank you for creating and passing on a passionate and enduring artistic legacy for your students that reaches across time. And, thank you for your tireless efforts to sustain the many arts support organizations such as ours in our region.

But, in the larger and more important sense, thank you for your vision, your commitment, your courage and for reaching out to us, and generously inviting us to soar and thrive with you, to share in this mystical, magical journey of irrational passion in this thing called the arts.

Topics: Achievements



More than 100 people gathered to honor the winners.