Rachel Maddow on Dance, Art, and Society

Rachel Maddow at Jacob’s Pillow, photo by Christopher Duggan

Here’s another reason to love Rachel Maddow: this past Saturday at a free, outdoor PillowTalk hosted by Jacob’s Pillow, the popular television host, radio personality, and political commentator discussed the role that the arts play in our lives and society as a whole.  In her characteristically smart, articulate, and witty manner, Maddow shared her thoughts on the importance of the arts and arts education while engaging in a discussion with the talk’s moderator, the Pillow’s Scholar-in-Residence Suzanne Carbonneau.  But, Maddow started by boldly stating that she’s not a dance expert, just an appreciator:  “I know nothing about dance. I am a fan. I am a fan of dance and of Jacob’s Pillow and a fan of people who know nothing about dance going to see dance.”  Here are a few more of Maddow’s statements from the event:

“Sometimes we choose to serve our country in uniform, in war.  Sometimes in elected office. And those are the ways of serving our country that I think we are trained to easily call heroic. It’s also a service to your country, I think, to teach poetry in the prisons, to be an incredibly dedicated student of dance, to fight for funding music and arts education in the schools.  A country without an expectation of minimal artistic literacy, without a basic structure by which the artists among us can be awakened and given the choice of following their talents and a way to get to be great at what they do, is a country that is not actually as great as it could be.  And a country without the capacity to nurture artistic greatness is not being a great country.   It is a service to our country, and sometimes it is heroic service to our country, to fight for the United States of America to have the capacity to nurture artistic greatness.”

“Not just in wartime but especially in wartime, and not just in hard economic times but especially in hard economic times, the arts get dismissed as ‘sissy’. Dance gets dismissed as craft, creativity gets dismissed as inessential, to the detriment of our country.  And so when we fight for dance, when we buy art that’s made by living American artists, when we say that even when you cut education to the bone, you do not cut arts and music education, because arts and music education IS bone, it is structural, it is essential; you are, in [Jacob’s Pillow founder] Ted Shawn’s words, you are preserving the way of life that we are supposedly fighting for and it’s worth being proud of.”  -Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow and Suzanne Carbonneau at Jacob’s Pillow, photo by Christopher Duggan

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28 Responses to Rachel Maddow on Dance, Art, and Society

  1. Pingback: Gina's Blog of Curiosities » Rachel Maddow at Jacob’s Pillow

  2. analinda says:

    Well said! I wish I had been there. The Pillow is one of my favorite places in the world and I heart Rachel Maddow!

  3. Stephen says:

    What an inspiring quotation from a deeply thoughtful human being. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Cheryl says:

    I was lucky enough to be there. She’s an incredibly intelligent, thoughtful woman and it was an honor to listen to her at that beautiful venue.

  5. Pingback: “A Country Should Nuture Artistic Greatness” « From the Top Green Room

  6. Joey says:

    “I know nothing about dance. I am a fan. I am a fan of dance and of Jacob’s Pillow and a fan of people who know nothing about dance going to see dance.” I LOVE that. I’m constantly arguing for my “non-dance” friends to realize that they can contribute to the field; that their voice is important too. Wish I could’ve been their for her discussion. Sounds AMAZING.

  7. Cynthia says:

    What a nice article. Thanks for sharing. I too am a fan of dance. Kudos to Rachel Maddow for her stance on dance!

  8. Victoria says:

    It is so incredible to hear words like these from someone not involved in dance and the arts, and especially someone in the media who is so exceptionally intelligent and articulate. Ms. Maddow’s appreciation of the arts, and most of all her inspiring way of expressing what they mean to our country, our society, our children, is greatly appreciated by those of us who are in the arts. Thank you, Rachel Maddow!

  9. Alexandra says:

    I love her statements and the way they include all in the genre of art…from artists to those who just like art. Who would our audiences be if not for those that live in awe of what artists do. Whether it is dance, visual art, music, theater, or any other type of art we all need an audience….we all need a voice…we all need to stand up and shout that we are here, and that art is essential to our nation. It brings hope and joy in times of sorrow, and we need to teach this to the generations that follow!

  10. Evan says:

    Victoria and Alexandra – well said! Rachel Maddow certainly has a way with words and is a wonderful spokesperson for the arts. She also sets a great example for “people who know nothing about dance” – you don’t have to be an expert to support the arts! I hope arts organizations recognize her appreciation of the arts and invite her to be a part of future conversations.

  11. Pingback: Rachel Maddow on Arts Education - The Theatrefolk Weblog

  12. starstruk says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. She is AWESOME!

  13. Scott Fisher says:

    I was able to hold it together till I read “to fight for funding music and arts education in the schools.”

    I spent the middle of the Nineties doing precisely that, with a group of parents, teachers, artists and others who were committed to getting arts education into our elementary school for the benefit of EVERY child there. I’m still very close with so many of the people from that time, and it brought back those fabulous years when Rachel Maddow expressed the importance of what we all worked so hard for.

    We’ve had to do it again this past summer, with a different group of parents and students, but we’ve managed to retain the art and music programs in our school district after budget shortfalls had originally eliminated them. So for anyone who feels strongly about the arts: you CAN make a difference. You CAN keep your art and music teachers in the school, providing education and exposure to the arts for EVERY child. And you CAN make sure that the next generation will know what made Louis Armstrong so great, why Margot Fonteyn was so exquisite, how Shakespeare gives us insights into the human condition that are every bit as true and real and deep now as they were four hundred years ago.

    And thanks so very deeply to Rachel Maddow for acknowledging those of us who, while we may never have the talent of Vincent van Gogh, can at least have the commitment and the understanding of his brother Theo. We also serve who only sit and sell tickets…

  14. Evan says:

    Scott, you’re doing really important work that is definitely making a difference in children’s lives. Rachel Maddow would be proud! You should have been up there on stage with her, sharing your experience.

  15. I discovered, with the majority, Rachel pre-election with her then-new show…and admire her for soooo many reasons. But now, even more for her articulate expression and support of the arts, AND HER BLUE GLASSES AND RED SOCKS!!!!!!

  16. Renee says:

    As a volunteer serving on a local school board, I appreciate Rachel’s vocal support for the arts. So important for all of us. P-12 art education is important to our world. Music teachers, art teachers, drama teachers, etc – a necessary piece of everyone’s education. Thank you!

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  19. jodi netzer says:

    Thank you, Rachel!
    We need the media to help share these ideas around the country. There is a group of us working to make community artists eligible for workforce development money. I hope you got the letter from our friend Arlene Goldbard- commentator extraordinaire on the arts. It would be great if there was an artist, especially those engaged with community, featured for every show!
    Much thanks!

  20. Pingback: the art teacher's guide to the internet » Blog Archive » Web Sightings for September 2009

  21. katie glasner says:

    Maddow’s position should be the addendum to the Pledge of Allegiance.

  22. Evan says:

    Katie, I agree 100%!

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  25. Art Babbitt says:

    “It’s also a service to your country, I think, to teach poetry in the prisons, to be an incredibly dedicated student of dance, to fight for funding music and arts education in the schools.”
    Bravo, Ms. Maddow. Supporters of the arts are soldiers for a cause, too.

  26. I feel so late to the table! This happened in when?…2009! but more relevant than ever… yeah, the Arts…yeah, Rachel Maddow. I am such a fan of YOU and your thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate way of being. Kate in LA

  27. Pingback: Rachel Maddow on Dance, Art, and Society | The State of Dance in the Union

  28. Mel Pontious says:

    Wow! I’ve admired her from when she was in radio, and admire her even more with this. I feel, with Kate Randolph, that I’m a ‘come lately’ to this piece, something I could have used during my 50+ years as a music educator and state fine arts consultant. Bravo, Rachel!

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