Monday, December 6, 2010

Rodeo pathetic, wealthy hide behind their walls

(Editor's note: A variation of the following by Gazette Blog columnist and contributor Noble Collins is posted as a comment on my "Off the Rim" column about the arts in the Rim Country below. But I also like Noble's original version, so here it is as a separate post.)

By Noble Collins
Gazette Columnist

Like it or not, the arts are almost always subsidized by wealthy patrons. They do not spontaneously spring forth from the common masses. The biggest single reason is - money.

Music, drama, visual art, dance, etc. are money losing propositions, even in big cities, where they depend on fundraisers and tax deductible contributions for their existence.

The exceptions are mostly in big city neighborhoods or boroughs where there is a common interest and a population large enough to support an activity. That doesn't exist in Payson.

Most of the big money in Payson is locked up behind the gated communities of Chapparral Pines and The Rim Club. You rarely see any of these people outside the gates. They don't even support local businesses for the most part. They don't mind at all getting into their $80,000 automobiles and driving to Phoenix for a day using up 20 gallons of gasoline to shop Costco or Bevmo.(They wouldn't be caught dead shopping in Payson stores except at Safeway for essentials.)

They come into town and leave quickly before being exposed to the great unwashed multitudes.

Fortunately, there are a few who have a conscience and support some non-profit organizations to a degree. That is commendable, except they rarely are physically involved. They only show up at events which will likely draw a majority of their own breed - a black tie soiree, a $100 a ticket wine and cheese tete-a-tete at a millionaire's ranch. For most of them, it is more about socializing than support.

If any one of them wanted fine arts in Payson, you would see fine arts in Payson. Perhaps they just haven't yet figured a way to keep the peasants out. It's not so much a function of the economy either. It was no different in boom times.

The new college will do wonders for the creative scene here. By its very nature, there will be more activities for the students, and that will inevitably spill over into the general population. Music, drama, visual art, etc. will be more likely to enter the mainstream and thus not be dependent upon having special cachet to attract supporters. Student populations as a rule are far more democratic about including all interested persons in their activities.

It will be interesting to see if a healthy arts scene will draw some of the more curious "gated ones" out to risk the dreaded peer pressure of lower class association.

These are not merely sour grapes. I am very well acquainted with these issues. So are many others who share a frustration at not being able to generate substantial interest in artistic activities beyond the usual special events.

By the way, you are correct - the rodeo is a pathetic, worn-out second rate hangover from a vastly different era.  It's claim as "the world's longest continuous rodeo" has about the same ring to it as a carnival side show at a county fair. Real cowboys must be spinning in their graves whenever the drugstore versions attempt to replicate the activities of the Old West without having any insight into the soul and charisma attached to the real thing.

My thoughts on the subject.

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