Yesterday I talked about the graffiti movement in Kazakhstan ('Culture on a Wall') and its connection to other aspects of the country's society, including national identity, mainstream pop culture and even art anthropology.
So I was pleased to hear this morning from Kazakhstan-based artist Daniel Gallegos, my chief source for information on the topic, who updated me on his (very) recent trip to neighboring Kyrgyzstan. It turns out that while there he was invited to see some local graffiti artists at a festival in the capital city of Bishkek, where he told me he was both shocked and delighted to discover another thriving arts movement:
'I had no idea what I was getting into. I went and found myself amongst 75 young artists. Many of them were painting and some just watching. The fashion was fantastic…Some of the kids were punk rock and some were hip hop.'
And he said he also noticed a sort of universality in the youth culture there: 'the kids looked like they could have been anywhere in the world.'
Daniel went on to tell me that the most inspiring thing for him was how positive, excited and vibrant this young group of people were in working together to produce art, and he summed it all up saying, 'This day I felt blessed to be able to travel.'
I completely understand his excitement to discover people expressing themselves through art, especially young people, in the most unexpected places. I don't want to sound too bleak, but it seems to me that over the years the arts have often been marginalized in schools to make room for more profitable endeavors.
Michael Kaiser, whose piece on the subject, ('Are We Forgetting the Mission of the Arts?'), was published Monday at the Huffington Post, would probably agree. He says the lack of creativity in workplaces is not only dangerous for the future of good business, but a reflection of a larger global arts decline that is seeing government funding 'shrinking in most countries' and arts organizations 'struggling.'