In the full text of his speech on receiving the National Medal of Arts, the Los Angeles music director takes the opposite point of view from one that I raised in a recent Wall Street Journal article.
Here’s Gustavo’s take:
Some people think that art is a luxury and must be cut back in times of crisis. These people must understand that precisely during times of crisis the unforgivable sin is to cut access to art.
In my beloved home of Venezuela such a crisis is happening right now. People are spending their days looking for food, medicine and the necessities of life.
The same arguments exist — how can we fund music — the arts — when basic needs are not being met? A recent article posed the question: “Can El Sistema save Venezuela?” To me, the more appropriate question is, “Can Venezuela save El Sistema?” – which is now more important than ever to the people of Venezuela and to their hope. I work every day to ensure that once Venezuela moves beyond this current crisis, El Sistema will continue to rise and empower those who otherwise would have no dreams.
Read the full speech here.