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Shifting to the Future

The intersection of arts, politics, business, and media is a busy place to reside but it’s where Derrick Ashong thrives. Derrick spent his formative years living in several countries abroad, as well as a number of U.S. cities before attending Harvard. Fully prepared to continue his education by getting a PhD, Derrick found himself drawn toward advocacy instead. After winning Billboard Magazine’s 2007 World Song Writing Competition and founding his band Soulfège, Derrick dedicated himself to advocacy fulltime. This commitment found him as the host of his own show on Oprah radio, starting, Take Back the Mic, a youth empowerment organization, and speaking to audiences all over the world.

Earlier this summer, Derrick spoke at the Arts Action Fund briefing during Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Baltimore and posed a new challenge. We, as advocates for the arts, need to shift our position from people who are in need of help, to the position that our nation needs what we offering. We are the best hope for America. So often we focus on the fact that the arts are under attack and request that anyone and everyone support us before we disappear instead of focusing on all that the arts contributes. 

Is Derrick right? Do we need to shift our position to be more effective? We already know that arts education benefits our children during their school years and beyond; we know that it can help Alzheimer’s patients recover memories; we know it provides employment for over three million people from musicians to set designers. We know that the arts are not expendable rather that they are essential to the fabric of American society.

Knowing all of this is it time for us to shift the conversation? Will you personally shift your thinking as an advocate for the arts from one of needing help to being the solution? If so, how? Let us know in the comments below.

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