Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tom Bauerle is a Putz

I am not a big fan of talk radio and a good portion of my dislike comes from the brash, shock 'em approach many of these individuals take as they proclaim opinion on contemporary issues.

The constant one-sided, perceived "truth" these individuals spew out makes me cringe as these spin-doctors pounce on the First Amendment without any understanding of the consequences of spreading their negativity and misguided information.

Unfortunately, we live in a 21st century world where even if truth and fact contrast one's opinion that their belief still has substance. The art of compromise went out with the Y2K threat and we now live in a world with loosely connected pockets of shared opinions and an "us versus them" mentality.

Talk show radio hosts use this their advantage as they throw out subject they have opinions about in attempts to rabble-rouse demographic pockets.

I noticed this recently as I was told to catch a segment of WBEN 930's The Tom Bauerle show.

Apparently, Bauerle was on a tangent about the cuts to WNY Cultural agencies and had recently carried on a discussion with someone in the theater community who commented on Bauerle's anti-Cultural position. Bauerle ripped the caller claiming that the Arts should not receive funding and that those who are in that industry are nothing more than hobbyists.

A hobby?

According to Webster's dictionary, a hobby is "a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation." Based on this definition I will speak for myself and say that being in the Arts is not a hobby. Grant it, there is not much money in it and I have to look to other sources of income to survive, but I treat what I do as a job and get no "pursuit of relaxation" with it.

Now I have mixed views on Cultural budget cuts, but will take offense to someone calling what I do a hobby, so I called the The Tom Bauerle show.

In the ensuing conversation, he maintained those in the Cultural do it as a hobby. I countered to him that some people may feel the same way about on-air radio announcers in an era of online radio services. He disagreed by saying what he was doing "was his job".

"That is the same way some people feel about working in the Arts." I replied to him. "And some people treat use the opportunities in the Arts to help subsidize their income as well."

It did not register with Bauerle.

Neither did my point to him that although some creative passions begin as a hobby and with proper funding for venues, these hobbies can turn into full-time jobs. Much like a college student who takes up radio as a hobby and eventually becomes a talk-show host.

Clearly, Bauerle's opinion is set. What truly disturbed me was the callers responding to his show who were echoing his sentiments on the subject. One caller mocked the theater person by calling him a "Thurston Howell type with leather patches on his elbows,"and Bauerle kept feeding this prejudice by creating an "us versus them" mentality with his callers.

The overall point that Bauerle and his callers missed is that those involved in the Arts are not some toy-soldier painting group of intellectuals. We are folks who are dedicated to pursuing our creative passion. We treat what we do as professionals. We get the greatest satisfaction in doing our best, without any hint of relaxation, with our crafts.

True, there is no money to be made in the Arts, but it does not mean we treat it as a hobby. Most importantly, although some changes need to be made with business models, funding Cultural groups enables them to pay individuals their creative worth. With this, the frequency of paycheck may not reflect a more traditional job, but the concept of getting paid, instead of the work being a labor of Love, qualifies the industry and the creative passion. Eliminating the idea that what Artists do is a hobby.

To say someones passion is a hobby because the work does not generate a good income is ludicrous.

After all, some might believe that being an outspoken, on-air talk-show host for a small AM radio station in a small city with a listenership-demographic comprised of angry white people, technophobes, folks over the age of 60, and ignorant ridge-runners is just a hobby as well.

Right Tom?


Anonymous said...

An insightful blog!

It is hard to make a living while making art...but theater is a legitimate business that makes money for Buffalo, NY state, and the USA:

Here are some numbers:

From http://www.americansforthearts.org/pdf/get_involved/advocacy/congressional_arts_handbook/information/2010/interior_approps_2010.pdf

The nonprofit arts industry generates $166.2 billion annually in economic activity, supports 5.7 million fulltime equivalent jobs, and returns $12.6 billion to the federal government in income taxes. Measured against direct federal cultural spending of about $1.4 billion, that's a return of nearly nine to one. (Figures from Americans for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity III study, 2007).
• Nationally, there are 668,267 businesses in the United States involved in the creation or distribution of the arts.These businesses employ 2.9 million people, representing 4.05 percent of all businesses and 2.18 percent of all employees, respectively. (Figures from Americans for the Arts, Creative Industries, 2010)
• The arts attract new tourism dollars. Seventy-eight percent of U.S. travelers include cultural and heritage events on their trips, spending an average of $994 per trip—more than the $641 spent on the average U.S. trip. Half of the expenditures are on activities, dining, and shopping. (U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism Marketing Council,
U.S. Department of Commerce, Cultural and Heritage Traveler Research, 2009.)
• America’s arts and entertainment are leading exports, with estimates of more than $30 billion annually in overseas sales. Public spending on the arts helps position the United States to compete globally.

In fiscal year 1995* from http://www.allianceforarts.org/pdfs/EconomicImpactArts_1997.pdf

· The total economic impact of the arts on New York State was $13.4 billion.
· Employment generated by the arts, both directly and indirectly, in New York State
totaled 174,000.
· Taxes returned to the State as a result of this activity equaled $480 million.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr. Bauerle is a frustrated artist?

Osiris said...

Well said Matt! Even though like most WNY actors I didn't make a lot of money, but I certainly didn't look at it as a hobby.

Most hobbyists don't go out on a cold winter night to spend 3-5 hours in a cold room working hard to create art for the people.

To me, that sounds like a low-pay or no-pay JOB. We worked HARD on Puddin'head Wilson... the whole cast... for no pay, and did so willingly. I don't think that you or any of my fellow cast members saw our work on that show as a hobby, but a JOB... A job that we knocked out of the park, I might add.

Granted, I do get paid better, and more often here in Minneapolis, but I still have to have another job to pay the rent.

By the way, if the Puddin'head Wilson reference wasn't a big enough hint, this is Jonathan.

Send me a facebook message, and I'll give you a link on MY blog... should send a few more readers your way!


Steven Myers said...

I would like to ask Mr. Bauerle what he does with his time when he is not "working". Does he listen to music, watch a movie, TV, read a book, stories, videos, games, on the internet, take a meal at a nice restaurant, go for a drive, ride in a boat, perhaps? All those things involve art, in their conception, inception, direction, and realization. In fact, everything in our lives, that makes life easier and comfortable (technology) came from art. Life would not just be boring without art; it would have us in the stone age, wearing animal skins, and eating raw meat. Our very way of life would not exist without the creative minds of everybody. It is a well documented fact, not opinion, that students do remarkably better in school when they are active in creative pursuits. That, and yes, art creates jobs, money, tourism, and some actors can even be politicians. And yes, most people have hobbies, because we all have the need to be creative; but it takes a lot of courage to be an artist. His or her paychecks are not guaranteed.

Matthew LaChiusa said...

@Steven: Good point. My biggest issue with Bauerle is his judgemental qualifications to what is a hobby and what is art. A painted portrait of Ryan Miller is a fair representation of what he considers "art" whereas something he does not like becomes crappy work from a hobbyist.

Paul Lafferty said...

bauerle shouldn't comment on art because his show is so formulaic the proverbial monkey could host it