It has been heartening to see and hear the many ways in which the arts community came together at this APAP Conference to address the current slate of daunting challenges facing most of us. From the annual meeting, to plenaries, workshops and innumerable conversations, often cooperative, sometimes cantankerous, I felt, on balance, a consensus that we’re all in this together. It was a comforting and energizing feeling, and though this thought doesn’t speak to the specifics of my APAP experience (and the devil/angel was in the details) it is my lingering feeling. The commitment and intelligence of the participants (I didn’t run into anyone that I wouldn’t describe as committed and intelligent) was bound to add up to something positive.
In his recent column in the New York Times, David Brooks quotes the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in relation to the tragic events in Tucson. Part of the quote resonated with me more generally with regard to how my colleagues and I are choosing to spend our careers: “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. … Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.”
This conference is not perfect, it isn’t cheap, it isn’t easy for all to attend, it can be overwhelming and it doesn’t answer every question (though there are a lot of specific answers if you put in the time). But it does provide two things for which I am grateful, and for which I suspect many others in the arts presenting world are grateful as well: hope and community.