By now, we all know that April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). We also know that our new president has proposed the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, while building new walls around the country and greatly increasing military budgets to defend them. We’re beginning to see just how much of a “jam” we’re in.
This year, we’re asking you to take JAM two steps further. Let’s make it Jazz Appreciation, Advocacy, and Action Month. It’s time to get intentional about preserving and supporting America’s cultural treasures.
Last year’s Jazz Appreciation Month culminated in the hippest International Jazz Day ever, with our hippest president ever opening the White House (which he re-named the Blues House) to an incredible concert by many of the top names in jazz. And, over and above the great music, what resonated most for many of us was the natural prestige in which jazz was cast, and the elegance and respect with which Barack Obama spoke of “America’s great gift to the world,” saying that, “Jazz is the ultimate in rugged individualism and the truest expression of community.”
Those days appear to be over. While President Barack Obama said, “Jazz is fearless and true,” and quoted Duke Ellington in referring to jazz as our best “barometer of freedom,” our new president equates the vast personal fortunes of the few as barometers of freedom and projects fearlessness by dramatic increases in military might, at the risk of personal liberties and cultural values.
Jazz reminds us all to remember our role in the American experiment: a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” All of the people. And we are asking you to join us in making direct contact with our elected officials to express our concerns and to save the NEA, NEH, CPB, and to preserve those aspects of our own government that reflect all of the cultures it represents. Check our website, earshot.org, for contact information for your elected officials. And remember that you do make a difference.
Your voice is part of the band. Let’s get in tune and make some noise.
–John Gilbreath, Executive Director