To the Readers of Huffington Post.
I was recently sent the following piece by a musician friend and want to give it wider readership. It expresses the mood of many artists working today in a country that barely tolerates their existence and denies them official support. It also reminds us that in good writing, irony still has a voice. Note: This is not the entire piece. My apologies to Matt Turner for the edit.
WISCONSIN MUSICIAN APOLOGIZES TO CITIZENS OF WISCONSIN AND TO GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER
by Matt Turner on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 5:08pm
Wisconsin citizens, my name is Matt Turner, and I am a professional musician (performer and composer) and educator. Ideas recently put forth by Governor Scott Walker and his supporters have made me realize how ignorant and blind I have been regarding my career in the arts. I wish to offer my apologies to the citizens of Wisconsin, to my family, and to my friends. I hope you will forgive me.
I would like to apologize for becoming a professional musician almost 30 years ago when I joined the musicians' union (AFM). Music was supported in the schools, and Wisconsin was a leader in music education. Little did I know that almost 30 years later, Wisconsinites would finally see the light about having to fork over fourteen cents per Wisconsin resident to support the arts. I never would have thought Wisconsin would be at the bottom of the food chain compared to other states with regard to arts funding. I'm now overcome with joy that we are at the bottom, but fourteen cents per person is still way too much money to pay for the "arts." I'm sorry I took advantage of all the wonderful opportunities offered in our state while I was growing up. What a waste of my time and your tax dollars.
I would like to apologize to my parents who endured listening to me practice cello and piano each and every morning before I went to school. I would awaken between 4:00 and 4:30 a.m. each day and practice. I worked very hard. I'm sorry for putting my mind and body through so much (for years!) so I could better myself as a musician. What a waste.
I would like to apologize to my parents for investing so much money in lessons and instruments when I was a child. Sorry for helping put me through college and then graduate school. I mean, really. Imagine spending six years in two music schools only to realize years later that what one does is meaningless and trivial. Just think of all the time I wasted attempting to better myself. What a shame.
I would like to apologize for the thousands of performances I have given, for the one hundred plus recordings on which I have played, and for the dozens of pieces I have composed and had published over the years. Did these offerings have an emotional impact on the listener or challenge people to think about their lives differently? I seriously doubt it. What a waste. I really don't know what I was thinking.
I would like to apologize for having spent the last 20 years of my life working with tens of thousands of public school music students during residencies in this country and abroad. Much of my time has been spent with students in Wisconsin -- students who after working with me were inspired enough not to quit music (as many had planned to do). I really wish they had quit. Having fewer musicians around means giving less money to freeloading, lazy musicians who have never worked a day in their lives. How did I miss this? Do we really NEED more of the "arts"?
So again, I'd like to offer my sincerest apologies to the citizens of Wisconsin for being such a burden in so many ways. I would also like to thank Governor Scott Walker and the members of the JFC (especially Senator Alberta Darling--way to stick it to those artists!) for bringing me to my senses. I just wish I could do it all over again. If I could only take it back.
Who knows, if perhaps I had spent less time working hard as a young person and had ignored the arts and my school work, I too may have had a shot at becoming governor of Wisconsin.