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I learnt that it is extremely hard work to create joy
I was introduced to classical music very early on at the Staatstheater Augsburg (formerly "Stadttheater"),
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I learnt that it is extremely hard work to create joy

I was introduced to classical music very early on at the Staatstheater Augsburg (formerly "Stadttheater"), where my father was employed as a stage designer. I vividly recall the magical work of the stage workers who, within minutes, created a new world of imagination behind the closed curtain. From far above the stage I could see the musicians who typically spent their artists' lives hidden in the orchestra pit. 

I spent time with my father, the theater carpenters and painters who laid the groundwork for creating a stage world that would have identical visual perspectives from any point in the audience. Not just simple woodwork or painting, but the ability to create visual perspective. And the singers! Their dresses, makeup and vocals were amazing!

I was thrilled when I, as a small child, enjoyed eating with them in the theater cantina during the intermissions. Sometimes the breaks were very long as the stage workers created a new world for the next act. Wagner operas, in particular, required an enormous amount of work during those breaks.

50 years later, I had another once-in-a-lifetime view of the arts. This time, I was on the road conducting interviews for my book "Coterminus" - (still in the works). Ten of the 75 interviewees were artists: musicians, authors, an opera singer, former and current members of my favorite synth band Tangerine Dream, and the group's current manager. I spent time with musicians in their studios; was treated to a live concert piano performance after one interview in Vienna; and turned down an invitation to sleep over on a sofa where Carlos Santana had once spent a night. And I got to hear secrets that I won't reveal for the rest of my life.

(Use the GoogleTranslate-Button for translation: Musik lebt ewig, oder?, Wien "reloaded" im Dezember 2017, Wechsel der kosmischen Adresse, Künstler und Philosoph - Ein Nachmittag mit Ulrich Schnauss, Nackt auf dem Marienplatz - Wenn es nicht blinken will…, Anstand, oder mit dem Jet an der Kinderstube vorbei?)

This was a world totally new to me, full of unexpected discoveries and insights. Up to that point, I assumed that creative people needed a creative mess to fuel their creativity. I was dead wrong. I met people that were more professional and disciplined in their jobs during these interviews than I had in all my business life before, and I work in IT where people think they’ve invented discipline and organization.

I learned that it is extremely hard work to create joy.

This is valid for all art: Music, writing, acting, painting. You name it.

And joy is the foundation of happiness. My dear friend Maike van den Boom, Germany’s best-known and bestselling happiness researcher, will certainly support me in saying that happiness is the glue for a society. In good times, and even more so in bad. Since the arts are a source of happiness, logic dictates that artists are a vital part of that glue, particularly in times of uncertainty, doubt, and social distress. Relegating the arts to the end of our chain of needs could contribute to a decrease of social cohesion.

What we are currently facing is a situation well-known in business continuity planning/management: anything that’s critical to the system and supports the already disputed Maslow's hierarchy of needs is handled with priority. For reasons beyond my grasp, creative activities are locate just the tip of the iceberg and, thus, considered irrelevant to the survival of a society.

The arts are a vital and defining part of our culture. Culture is the base for humanity. We consider ourselves people of culture. Thus, we define our society by how we enable, nurture, support and value the arts. No art and humanity will disappear along with culture.

We are beyond taming the fire and, in the course of centuries, developed new skills by opening up to stimuli beyond our basic needs. Unluckily, we had times where the arts fell into oblivion, were suppressed or both. And so was our culture. This is when societies regressed into barbarism.

Currently, we are reiterating those discussions about the value and, thus, the ranking of the arts in times of the current distress.

I, for my part, don't want to wake up in a world without the arts. On the other hand, it would not necessarily suit my brother, for example, as a member of a risk group, to bite the dust while others continue at his expense. The current pandemic measures represent what is considered to be a useful prevention according to the facts at hand. Anything else would be field tests with an uncertain, possibly uncontrollable outcome. That means, we’re back to focus on the basic needs which is considered a core responsibility of any government while the tip of that pyramid is suffering from negligence and lack of financial support.

It is therefore up to everyone who finds joy in the arts to help. This help does not entail complaining about a disease that does not care about this complaining or fighting measures that are necessary. What's often missing is the required expertise and understanding, personal responsibility and social competence for voluntary restriction. (Stop bullshitting!)

In this case, the state is all of us: society. Solidarity is the name of the game. My Pledge:

Please support artists who have no history that they can live from!

But how?

Here is my list of small things that don't hurt you, but which will help musicians and make sure we don’t end up back in caves gnawing away on some bleak animal bones around a fire:

  1. Buy their art! DVDs, CDs, Vinyl, merchandising, T-Shirts.... and, if possible, directly from them. Platforms such as Bandcamp feature special days where all proceeds go to the artist. Open your wallet! Swipe your card! 
  2. In addition to 1: Continue streaming the music from commercial sites! Let the counter tick!
  3. Don‘t illegally download art! Don‘t share with friends! Tease them! Send them the link to purchase!
  4. Promote artists on social media! Promote their digital events! Tell your friends!
  5. Donate! Put aside a small monthly contribution and PayPal the artist! If you lack direct access to your beloved artists, then check Patreon!
  6. Raise your voice to promote the arts and encourage others to follow your example!
  7. Entreat elected officials and lobby for funds beyond operating expenses. Artists do most of their work between their ears. They need to cover costs of living rather than support for OPEX!

It's not true that there are no lobbyists for the arts. We are all lobbyists!

A government's job is to keep critical infrastructures running in the order it is necessary for survival. Food, electricity, water, transportation....

Until that is granted, we all need to be active and help. This is our turn!

Artists I had the pleasure meeting and interviewing for Coterminus. Thanks for your time and insights!

With special thanks to my dear friends Myra Fournier and Andy King for polishing my English!

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