One day last week as I sleepily began my day, I let the cat in, put the teakettle on, and headed to the front door to retrieve the morning paper. On the way, as I do every morning, I punched button number 2 on my Bose radio to bring into my consciousness the lush, inspiring strains of music generated at 89.9—and nothing happened! Wanting to ascertain that it was not my treasured Bose that was at fault, I frantically punched other buttons, bringing in sounds I didn’t want to hear first thing in the morning, then returned to WDPR/WDPG, only to once again be bombarded by silence. And I panicked.
What would I do without the music that provides the perfect setting for easing into daily life! Well, I managed to recover from the anguish of this fracture to my routine, put on a CD, picked up the newspaper, brewed my tea, and made it through the day. Fortunately, WDPG’s loss of signal was soon repaired, so my life returned to normal fairly quickly. However, this seemingly trivial trauma strongly brought home to me the value of the arts to my life.
Our community is especially fortunate to have access to one of the very few radio stations in the nation broadcasting classical music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Dayton Community Radio, later Dayton Public Radio, first came into being in 1980, with limited broadcast area until the 50,000 watt Darke County facility was constructed, greatly expanding its reach when WDPG signed on in February of 1994, enriching the lives of listeners throughout the Miami Valley and beyond. Now, with the ability to stream their signal on the World Wide Web, Discover Classical 88.1 (WDPR) and 89.9 (WDPG) can be and is heard around the world.
Whether rich or poor, old or young, and regardless of ethnicity, almost everyone who is so inclined can partake of great music through the ages. Listeners tell the station that they find it to be an oasis, enhancing their lives, providing joy, peace, and entertainment. And that is just a small sample of the benefits the arts provide to humankind.
Participation in the arts has been proven to be basic to education, providing opportunities for problem solving and critical assessment and ultimately improving students’ performance in school. The arts help build families and communities, encouraging the expression and exchange of ideas. The arts preserve the past, nourishing our cultural heritage, and enhance the present while giving pleasure and inspiring imaginations. The future of our community, the nation, and the world will only be enriched by the creative work of artists, each in their own unique way communicating truth and beauty that will withstand the travails of time.
Donna Berman, Executive Director of a Hartford, Connecticut cultural center, says “The arts have this uncanny ability to circumvent politics and ideology and, therefore, fly under the radar and soar directly into our hearts.” The arts are not partisan, nor are they a luxury. They are essential to our lives, enabling us to connect with one another beyond the boundaries of distance and space, a common denominator for people all over the world.
Art is not removed from the rest of society, not isolated in some ivory tower. The arts touch every aspect of our world, providing an avenue of expression, sparking new ideas, helping us understand ourselves and each other; and the arts contribute to our economy, creating and supporting jobs, generating revenues that benefit local businesses as well as governmental jurisdictions at all levels.
When I look at the big picture, I realize that my trauma of a week ago was not so trivial after all. Whether or not you depend upon WDPR/WDPG to daily provide the background music for your life, you are undoubtedly touched by the creative output of artists from many disciplines who give of themselves for the benefit of all. The value of the arts is truly without measure, reaching out in myriad ways. Yes, the arts count!