Arts for Amateurs

I tweeted last night, while listening to the third evening in a row of fireworks being set off at dozens of homes in our neighborhood:

“We seem to have decided as a society that the arts should only be handled by professionals, but pyrotechnics are fine for amateurs.”

There are so many people who “only sing in the shower” or are “tone deaf” (not really) or who just have relinquished their arts experience to the successful or aspiring (the Super Bowl Halftime Show or The Voice). They are happy to “leave it to the professionals.”

And yet, many of my neighbors celebrated the professional fireworks provided by my neighborhood association by shooting off their own. They didn’t hesitate to greet Independence Day with their own amateur pyrotechnics. The conventional wisdom is, that if you like to watch fireworks, you should set off some of your own.

The same wisdom should be applied to the arts. If you like to hear singing, you should join a choir. If you like to look at paintings, buy some watercolors. If you like to watch movies, audition for a local play.

The arts belong to all of us, and surrendering them to professionals diminishes them.