Today I drove to Annapolis and attended MD Arts Day organized by Maryland Citizens for the Arts. I didn't know what to expect having never attended before. What I found was a day full of people that LOVE what they do and care about promoting and sustaining creativity in the world. It was an inspiring day and made me feel that it is possible to work within the world as it exists AND move toward the world as it could be, a world where equity, care, empathy, compassion and love are the values that the systems of society are based on.

A bit about the politics of the day (never have I been so involved in the political system as the past two weeks when I have served on a jury and gone to Annapolis to talk to our elected representatives). Governor O'Malley has proposed a budget that would provide level funding for the arts, meaning that the amount received would be the same as last year (not great, but not bad in this economic climate). Maryland Citizens for the Arts were organizing arts advocates to encourage our Senators and Representatives in the House to support this budget. They were also advocating for politicians to say NO to BRFA, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act that would remove the Art Council's mandated increase for fiscal year 2013 and freeze it until 2017. If you are a supporter of the arts in Maryland call your representatives and tell them to support level funding for the arts and say no to BRFA.

Bashi Rose was the keynote speaker at the event and spoke eloquently about his experience as a black artist from Baltimore and how important the arts are to our humanity. Early on he recited a James Baldwin quote, "Artists are here to disturb the peace." He was generous in sharing his story. He made connections between resistance, spirituality and art.

Arts are what keep us human. 
Love is the purpose for doing. 
The arts communicate stories.

These things I wrote down as Bashi Rose spoke. These things I believe are true. These things are the things we need to remember as we proceed in the world. Bashi expressed these through his own story, the story of growing up in Baltimore, of Catholic school and college, of working at Everyone's Place Bookstore, of working in prison with Marshall Eddie Conway (former Black Panther Party member currently in prison at Hagerstown), of loving, of family, of the black arts movement and resistance movement. This story is not just an individual's story, it is connected to all of us. It is connected to how we get to this point in our country's history, to how we get to this point of needing funding for arts, of how we get to this point of needing organizations to remind people how to love. And that is often what we need to remember - that there is no purpose without love. Also, that the arts connect us to our pure being and that it is only from this pure being that we can love.

It is always about love, but sometimes it is so difficult to love. Especially at conferences and events where one just sits all day and listens and doesn't have the opportunity to interact. And that brings me to the most pleasantly surprising event of the day. After lunch we were split into four breakout groups. These groups were facilitated in a way that promoted communication and relationship building. People were not just sitting and listening to information, we were interacting with each other, sharing information, learning about and from one another and the conversations had were highly engaging. Jeannie Howe, the Executive Director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance led the workshop I was in titled "The New Normal(s) in Fundraising" and we had some amazing conversations about what it is like to ask for money, how asking has changed and what some of the conflicts in trying to find money to support our work might be. It was incredibly satisfying and I am glad to be a part of it.

I cannot wait until next MD Arts Day. It is good to know that there are so many working toward a more creative world and that there is a way for us to affect the political process. So call your representatives and let them know that art is important. It is after all what makes love possible.