While tradition is important, too many Americans are resisting the development of new American aesthetics by holding too tightly to the past.
"Tradition is the loom on which you weave your daily lives, but the loom must make new cloth. The loom must make cloth that is consistent for the future," Leni Sloan, a consultant with the Kennedy Center, told artists and art teachers attending the seventh annual conference of the Utah Arts Council on Friday.Sloan, who has received a choreography fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the San Francisco Drama Critics award, called Utah a state "squarely rooted in the new world" but lingering in the traditions of the old.
"I am discouraged, Utah, by the fact that I look upon you and do not see a multicultural audience," he said.
He told a story of a friend who came to pick him up in Japanese-inspired clothes to take him out for a Mexican dinner before going to see an Italian opera. "We are a multicultural society. We just need to catch up to that."
Sloan also spoke of the need to support the arts. Citing Confucius, he said, "You can tell the condition of a man's kingdom by the state in which you find the arts there."
He told of taking his suitcase with him to his high school graduation. "I was going to take my diploma, put it in my suitcase and get out," he said. "I saw no future, I only saw history. You do not want your resources to leave your state. You need to create a space for those resources. Unless you create a fertile climate for the future, you will be on barren soil."
Sloan said supporters of the arts must also endorse artists through tax dollars. Asking artists and art lovers to impact the vote at the ballot box he said, "Art has got to be political, or it won't be at all."