It’s National Arts Month and why it should matter

By Julito Labajo

To young people glued on TV, mention the word “artists” and you get the wrong names like Vice Ganda, Vic Sotto, Pokwang and teen stars. Wrong because, let’s get this straight, they are not artists but entertainers.

Artists are artistic people who independently create original works, not do the same predictable things every day, every show, every moment. Painters, songwriters, actors, movement artists or dancers, singers who sing their own songs, directors, playwrights, even designers and architects.

No, TV hosts, news readers are not. They are gifted alright with a good voice and some guts.

It is funny and downright ridiculous when entertainers brag they are going abroad to do a show call themselves network artists when they sing American top hits and desperately sound like Celine Dion and God knows who else. That is not artistry, it is mimicry. Put in another word, it’s “copycatting.”

Lucky for us we have real international artists like Leah Salonga, pianists Cecil Licad and Raul Sunico, film director Lav Diaz and many others who have proven their worth in their original terms and styles. They understand and do the real meaning of “artist”, not just to look cute and nothing to show.

However, there are some entertainers who graduate into artists after they are done doing the same, unchallenging stuff. An ordinary weaver and chanter of a tribe can be considered an artist because aside from creating beautiful pieces seen or heard, it also reflect wisdom and stories that are sensible and open the minds or lightens a new way of thinking-and doing. That is true art.

It is good that the country now has learned to acknowledge the presence of artists and cultural workers as instruments of raising the minds and not wallow in trivial ideas. The real artist is the kind that think “out-of-the box” or venturing new ventures for himself and society, always daring to test his artistry and mastering it.

It is definitely wrong when someone thinks or brags he is an artist when he has only done it a day or a short period. A real artist is one who practice his craft for a long time. In fact, it take decades or more and consistently. A body of work to show or years of experience is necessary.

Meaning, it takes a hell of hard work, discipline, respect to the craft, with all the sweat and tears added. It is like building a nation in itself.

It is important that the nation recognized the relevance of artists and creative people because ,whether you believe it or not, they supply the dreams and aspirations, the search of truth, the here and now and help guide the vision and follow the light. That is what a society needs.

Art matters because in reality, people matters. Everyone deserves a better life.

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