FROM "Building Community: The Arts and Baltimor Together...

Salmagundi

December 24, 1992

FROM "Building Community: The Arts and Baltimor Together," a report to the Baltimore Community Foundation by Ernest L. Boyer:

"For the most intimate, most intense, and most deeply moving experiences, humans needed other subtle, sensitive symbols. So is that people of all ages and cultures have, throughout the years, used music and dance and all the visual arts to express their most deeply rooted insights and emotions.

"Critic John Ruskin put it this way: 'Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books,' Ruskin said, 'can be understood unless we read the other two. But of the three, the only trustworthy one is the last.'

"In our hard-edged world, the vision of finding a common language through the arts may seem quixotic. Prejudice and injustice are deeply rooted realities in this country. Pain and rage are building in our cities. We seem to have so few ways to communicate with one another, and it seems so difficult to move beyond the differences and build bridges across the chasms that divide . . .

"The editors of Harvard Education Review recently wrote: 'By acknowledging the role of the arts in our lives we acknowledge what makes individuals whole.' By acknowledging the arts, we also acknowledge what makes communities whole. But for this to happen the arts must be viewed not as a frill, but as a powerful, integrating influence.

"Here, then is our conclusion. Music and dance and theater and the visual arts are no longer just desirable; they are essential if we are to relate authentically to each other. And we remain convinced that Baltimore can -- by reaffirming its commitment to the arts -- become a vibrant, cohesive community, one that celebrates itself."

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