IntoNation: New Tunes for America

Happy Blog-iversary, friends! This post begins a second year of sharing thoughts, asking questions, and making terrible puns.

The United States is a different place than it was a year ago. Or at least, the government is. There is a new administration in the White House, and as promised on the campaign trail, it seeks to steer the ship in a different direction for many facets of the country. These changes bring many questions for the Classical Music Industry.

As such, I’ve decided for the time being to alter the course of this blog. Or rather, bring it to a focus. I will be looking into how U.S. Politics and Legislation can impact Classical Music, and vice-versa.

No, this blog will not become a platform to cathartically spout out my personal political beliefs.

I remain committed to discovery, understanding, and excellence as laid out in the About the Blog section. I’m still brainstorming for topics to investigate in the coming months. Now more than ever, I ask you to please leave something in the comment section below this post.

Beige bookshelves in a library on the left, which are mostly full with colorful books. A woman dressed as a queen in a white wig, red gown, and yellow garment looks toward the shelves with her left hand on the third shelf.

  • The National Endowment of the Arts

Established in 1965, the NEA is America’s federal agency dedicated to cultivating the arts. It supports artists, arts organizations, and communities through funding and advocacy initiatives. Fiscal Year 2016 saw appropriations of $148M for the NEA, which accounts for 0.004% of the $3.9 Trillion in Federal Spending.

Last month, it was reported that the White House is considering including the NEA on the chopping block as it seeks to dramatically reduce government spending. With both houses of Congress having control of the Republican Party, which for decades has valued spending reductions, many in the Classical Music Industry wonder what the fate of the NEA will be.

The same is true for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, who have similar budget sizes and often collaborate with arts organizations.

  • Education

This post will be published days, or perhaps hours, before the US Senate votes on the President’s Secretary of Education nominee. Whether or not she is confirmed, education policy is another area where no one knows how things will evolve.

Ever since the days of Plato in Ancient Greece, music has been valued as a vital component to a student’s development. Not just in terms of learning the art-form itself, but the ways it shapes how you think, how you collaborate with others, how you manage self-discipline…the list goes on. It is the hope of many that US education policy will reflect this.

  • Labor Law

Being an active union member, labor gets discussed on this blog often. (I refer you to the Labor of Love Section.) For me, there are two things that come to mind.

First, as with Education, the nominee for Secretary of Labor has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Andrew Puzder, Chief Executive of CKE Restaurants (parent company of Carls, Jr., among others) is the President’s pick. Puzder has come under scrutiny over the last year for the way he praised automative replacements for workers. He didn’t outwardly say robots are better than humans, but it didn’t sit well with people who are concerned about people being replaced by machines in the workplace. There is also uncertainty on his views in regard to pay and healthcare for low-income workers.

The second issue is Right-to-Work Law. In 27 states, it is prohibited for unions to require that its members pay dues. Admittedly, I’m still not too familiar with the ins and outs, but I do know that in many cases it reduces income for labor unions.

  • Travel Policies and Immigration Law

During the previous administration, two big topics of discussion surfaced for traveling musicians.

One was airlines denying instruments as carry-on luggage. The other was the implications of the near-total ban of commercial African elephant ivory. Many instruments have minuscule amounts of ivory from when they were made long before this ban took effect. (The ring around the bell of a bassoon and string bows are two common places for this.) Passing through US Customs with one of these instruments can lead to confiscation and a whole headache of problems to ensue.

In this new administration, immigration has also become a concern. An executive order to halt the entry of people, even Green-Card holders, from seven Middle-Eastern and African countries was a first action, and it has been met with large protests around the world at airports, government buildings, and notable public spaces. This has been reversed for the time being, but it’s clear that immigration law is something that could affect the Classical Music Industry in the years to come.

 

I look forward to exploring these kinds of things. This is by no means a complete list. If you have anything to add or edit to what you’ve read, I hope you leave a comment!

4 Responses to IntoNation: New Tunes for America

  1. ccyager Feb 6, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    Hi, Doug, glad you’re keeping on top of what this administration is doing, will be doing, and how it’ll affect musicians. As a writer, I’m just as concerned. This President does not read, believe it or not, and I doubt anyone else in his administration does either. Well, maybe Sean Spicer. I’d so overall this administration is definitely unfriendly toward the arts, and especially those arts that might criticize or parody the administration in any way. Thank you!

    • Doug Rosenthal Feb 6, 2017 at 9:04 pm #

      It certainly is a switch, isn’t it? We’ve gone from a president who encourages respectful debate to a president who speaks out against criticism. Definitely a time to be vigilant. Are there specific areas of concern for you, as a writer? Any agencies or funding you fear might be in jeopardy? Anything that would inhibit your creative process or the way you do business?

  2. Brian Gordon Feb 6, 2017 at 11:59 am #

    Doug..I’ve been thinking about the changing repertoire that we are dong at least..YES , we need to stay in business, but NONSTOP John Williams, Star Wars , Harry Potter etc!.Are we creating limited audiences through this programming or just giving the audience what they want to hear. when does pandering turn into a self fulfilled prophecy of an unenlightened audience?

    • Doug Rosenthal Feb 6, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

      Have you ever read the blog Neo-Classical, authored by Holly Mulcahy? http://www.insidethearts.com/neoclassical/ I really enjoy the way she connects with her audiences (from first-timers to long-time board members) without losing her genuine love for the repertoire. I don’t mean to pass the buck, but there are some excellent articles on that blog.

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