A few weeks ago, I was talking with Felix Endara, who works with the Artist as Activist program at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
We were discussing an arts initiative I had managed, and he challenged me: “In addition to raising awareness, what kind of impact does the initiative have?”
Now, let me say that while I believe all art has impact, I don’t believe that all art has to “have impact” as its guiding force or purpose. But the nexus of this discussion revolved around projects and films that were indeed seeking to make an impact.
At his question, I suddenly realized how dubious “raising awareness” could be as a purpose. Make no mistake – I believe strongly in the idea of it. My dream job would be to work for a large company akin to Bell Laboratories of the 1960s-70s, that believes that presenting employees with arts, music, lectures, etc… inspires its staff to see different perspectives, be inspired, and think creatively in its work. If I worked for a company like that, I would schedule programming that brought people into other worlds and introduced them to new concepts. I would be championing arts that raise awareness.