At this time when we celebrate our independence as a nation, I’m prompted a recent panel on arts writing, in which I participated, to think about the independence of the media – a fundamental element of a democratic society. The panel focused specifically on the failures of the major media in terms of arts coverage, and as Rebecca Mazzei of Metro Times pointed out quite correctly, those institutions are failing us in far greater ways than just a lack of arts coverage.
From an unquestioned march to war to a lack of attention to what’s going on in our backyards, the critical role the media plays has been relinquished. The media conglomerates that have bought up every major independent news outlet would have us think that observance of the cult of celebrity is more important than the culture of a community.
In that same conversation on arts writing, former longtime arts editor George Tysh spoke out from the audience about the vitality of microcultures and, despite being almost completely ignored by the major media, of the great interest people have in them. He’s right on.
And these microcultures – from Detroit’s thriving arts scene to its theater and literature venues – that’s exactly where we’ve had our sights trained all along and what drives us to put this publication out virtually each and every week. We need independent media, independent thinking, to look at, taste, and sample these smaller cultures and in doing so help bring them into the light so that their voices can be heard amidst the cacophony of distractions broadcast all around us.
This life is happening all around us. Here. Now. People are creating. People are doing. And they’re questioning and forging new paths. It is with that vitality in mind, with our community at heart, that we renew our mission and dedication to being that independent voice.
Happy Independence Day. – Nick Sousanis
P.S. The aforementioned Arts Writers Panel at MOCAD sparked a number of thoughts, which will be the topic of future columns in this space over the coming weeks. – N