Do you ever look around at all the budget cuts towards the Arts and feel discouraged?
Do you look at where money is being poured like honey, and wonder,
Why isn’t this going into what matters most to me?
Sports teams having NO problem paying their players millions of dollars, and you walk by another busker on the street begging for change or a dollar, for their incredible music.
Why this HUGE discrepancy?
How are we as Artists to make a living when we feel so devalued by society?
Where are those thriving communities that not only value the Arts, but are committed to growing and investing in them?
Does it even exist?
In 2000, Bruce Springsteen wrote a sobering song about Asbury Park, NJ, his adopted musical hometown where he began his career at The Stone Pony bar in the 80’s.
Named, My City of Ruins, he lamented on the sad and dismal state of what was once a thriving arts scene,
Young men on the corner
like scattered leaves
the boarded up windows
the empty streets
At one time, the Rat Pack filled concert halls, and the boardwalk rumbled with vibrant visitors. Riots and waste had transformed the landscape into a ghost town, questionably safe, and decaying.
His heart was not alone in breaking. In fact, many investors were eyeing this shore town, and seeing potential.
And something began to take shape. A revitalization……and a transformation.
In 2015, from the same stage, Bruce introduced a new song, Atlantic City, musing,
“But maybe everything that dies someday comes back. Maybe Asbury Park is back?”
Packing up and leaving New York City after living there for 19 years was a lot for me. I love the city. And one of the TOP reasons it resonates with me so much is the culture seeping out of every street.
You can throw a penny and hit some kind of theater, music venue, museum, or sculpture.
People travel from all over the world to see
The Metropolitan Opera
The Guggenheim Museum
And it’s not just established artists, there are TONS of opportunities for new playwrights, Off Off Broadway productions, small galleries to showcase new artists, and music venues for those just growing their fan base.
The city is about developing your Artistry AND showcasing it.
Moving down to the Jersey Shore, I found myself asking,
Will I find inspiration down here?
Will I find culture down here?
Most of all,
Will I find community down here?
My fiance had spoken about Asbury Park, and while we had experienced an amazing New Year’s Eve party at the Asbury Hotel seeing local band Remember Jones, I still had not had the chance to really explore.
Last weekend, we drove into Asbury, and what took most of the time was finding a parking space.
Asbury was packed.
Packed with all ages, twenty somethings on dates, older couples having a night out together, and families walking along the boardwalk.
I was enchanted, but here was the part that stood out to me the most….
The number of live music venues and galleries.
They were everywhere and opening up new. Indeed, Bruce posed a powerful question back in 2015 that was being answered with a resounding YES.
Asbury Park is back, and even more so, being funded by patrons, and investors that see the value of Art. They are specifically putting their energy into what lights people up.
And walking along the boardwalk, staring at the full moon, I felt my inner light shine brighter. Inspiration was here. Art is alive here.
Art is valued here.
And all I want to do now is tap into this community and create. It’s nourishing.
Do you have this in your life?
What is your community like?
How does that affect your Art and making a living from it?
What would it be like if you DID have this?
What could be possible for you then?
Back on that shocking election day in November of 2016, I sent out an email titled,
What Trump means for your Creativity
The response was enormous, and the cry unified.
I have watched Artists galvanize in ways they never had before in the face of their livelihood being threatened.
And the call was,
We need Art more than ever now.
Your voice matters.
Walking along the streets on Asbury, it wasn’t just the fact that so many new venues were opening, it was the fact that they were FULL.
Full of audiences hungry for Art.
There is a demand here.
And all I can hear is Bruce’s famous song, The Rising.
For us to thrive, we need to have community, and have an audience that not only GETS you but VALUES you. Find your community. Isolation only leads to further suffering. We don’t get there alone.
The lead singer of Remember Jones, Anthony, shared with me his 13 piece band has grown to profit specifically on the fan base built at Asbury.
Morgan, a theatre professional, is renovating an old downtown vaudeville theater, the Savoy, into a performance space, with 64 micro-apartments on the floors above for musicians and artists.
If you are in a small town, or community that doesn’t have culture, look to communities that do. What’s incredible about the internet, is the ability to reach people across the world with your Art.
Know they are out there, and they are hungry.
Know people are lining up on streets to see great work.
Know investors are seeking the next great space to blow up with creativity.
We are stronger together.
Revitalizing the power of Art.