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Listen to a Culture Spy

By Nicole Williams
Published on Thursday, December 13, 2012
SPN NEWS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

A spy was in our midst.

John Tillman, Jeffrey Cain, John Kramer and Corey Burres dedicated 90 minutes during the recent SPN Annual Meeting to discuss how arts and culture affect freedom. In the room of people eager to embrace a topic long past due was a self-described “spy.”

Arts and culture reflect society – or is it the other way around? Whether we learn from the arts or they reflect prevailing thought, this is an area the freedom movement has largely ignored.

Statists, on the other hand, invest time, money and energy into supporting creative pursuits and they reap results. For example, the spy told the audience that a museum’s employees once discussed how to link an art display with teachings about global warming.

Who was this person? She’s a frustrated employee of the above-mentioned museum, the sole freedom thinker in the midst of pro-state artists. She told how her perspective was ridiculed – then buried – by the sheer number of big-government proponents working at the museum.

Because the spy’s story surely is not the only such example, advocates of liberty should heed the recommendations of the “How to Stimulate Change in Arts and Culture” panelists. Among the recommendations are:

Find and display local art in your offices. Find an artist whose work you like. Any subject, political or not, will do. Supporting a free-market artist will influence more hearts than you think possible.

Join local art boards. Seek membership on the board of a theater club; become a museum volunteer; participate in a street-art planning committee; or get involved with a parade-music planning board. Whatever your passion, there is a group that can benefit from your knowledge.

Be proud of your art. John Kramer shared 10 paintings at the SPN Annual Meeting. More than that, he explained stories of early failed attempts that developed his technique into the beautiful paintings we saw. The principles he learned from painting are applicable to his work for the Institute for Justice. 

Popular, well-executed TV programs teach more than many a scholarly book. Drug war lessons in Breaking Bad or The Wire will outlast the “Just Say No” campaign. Don’t be afraid to use current cultural media to teach. 

The arts – novels, TV, film, theater, poetry, paintings, songs – are all part of society, and all are possible teaching tools. Over the past 20 years, we have employed policy as the means to advance personal and economic liberty. Imagine what is possible if our network were involved in arts and culture. 

Messrs. Tillman, Burress, Cain, Kramer and our resident spy all see the value. Do you?  

Nicole Williams is president of Spark Freedom. Write her at nicole@sparkfreedom.org.

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