When Robert first told me about the Post and asked me if I would be interested in being one of the featured columnists, I was excited. I love this city, I love writing, and I love the Internet. Perfect!
When he told me I was going to be covering the arts and culture scene, I was elated. Not only do I love the arts and artists of this city, but I had been working furiously in the arts scene for more than four years and knew there were issues and events that weren’t getting the attention they deserved. Perfect again!
But that was last year.
This year, I still love the arts and the artists. And I’m mildly affectionate toward the arts scene. But as I mentioned in my post Mass (Media) Hysteria, there are an awful lot of publications covering our big little city, no less than six of which either focus primarily on the arts and culture aspects or have sections dedicated to it. And five of those have paid staff to boot.
How could one person presume to cover the culture of a city with half a million people, an arts district, an arts quarter, a vintage arts row (Yay! 4th Street!), some kinda arts somethin’ in Bixby, a Downtown that’s always rather artistically up to something, a renowned undergraduate and graduate arts program at a esteemed university (Go Beach!), as well as art galleries, artist studios and a few crafters unions strew throughout?
And I wasn’t asking in a rhetorical “how can one person can change the world” kinda way. I was asking in a pretty realistic, “are you freaking nutso?” kinda way.
My conclusion? One person couldn’t. Sure, I’ve got energy to spare, two Gemini personalities and an innate need to fix anything that’s broken, but besides already having two jobs, I actually think that between the new blog format of Long Beach Culture and the incessant “also” of the District, the arts scene is being covered pretty well! Kudos!
Well, except where did that leave All Together Now? As a writer and a dedicated Long Beachian, I very much wanted to continue to be a part of the Post, but I couldn’t continue on without figuring out some way to make ATN relevant, both to this dear city and to me, personally.
Well, retail is slow in late summer, so I was finally able to get a few clear minutes to assess the situation. My needs, the Post’s needs, the city’s needs …all I could think about though was all the things that needed to get done for Open, a small business I own, and Kidsguide magazine, a small business I work for. What about their needs?
Shortly thereafter, I got into a brief discussion with one of Open’s current artists: why she did and didn’t make prints of her original pieces, the price points for originals versus prints, the various different qualities of prints, and the varying factors that influence the art buyer.
And then it struck me.
I have been a staunch supporter of small business far longer than I’ve been an arts advocate. My parents have owned their own small business since I was born, exposing me early on to the (many) blessings and (occasional) curses of owning your own business. And growing up in the mountains of California (Go Scots!) spared me from being anesthetized to the stuccoed, monolithic presence of Big Business, so that I am still mildly offended by their homogenization of, well, everything.
On top of all that, the small business culture in Long Beach is rich and diverse, and there is only one publication (and one columnist, what up DJ!) dedicated to Long Beach business issues as a whole.
But, true to Gemini form, I’m not going strictly business. I’m not all that interested, for example, in the doings of the Chamber or Boeing or the Airport or LaserFiche. They have their place, it’s just not with me.
Instead I am, rather excitedly, going to turn toward the intersection of arts and small business, the symbiotic relationship of independent business and artists, and the artist (whether writer, painter or sound sculptor) as a business and an industry unto themselves.
‘Course, I’m not going to cover that right now. It’s far too fun to leave you (and you, darling Post publishers!) to wonder if I’m really just that sporadic.