It's clear that the heart of "Gone Begging" was a call for more infrastructural support for the arts. Yet the resulting bereavement from the consistently negative description of the arts and artists in Boston is gut-wrenching. Often the largest hurdle for Boston is battling the energy that is invested in maintaining these myths of being second-rate and unimaginative.
The story described "as old as time," of artists leaving (in droves?) for greener pastures, is blatantly dated. How many artists are really leaving Boston? Is this data quantified? How does this compare to any other city? We can keep encouraging thousands of art school graduates to run like hell with articles like "Gone Begging," or we can identify reasons to stay.
The casual mention of Boston artists lacking backbone, within the same sentence as the claim of Boston's institutions downplaying local artists is worrisome. To anyone working with contemporary artists in Boston, the idea that they lack strength is blasphemous and proof that we do not get the coverage we deserve. It's publications like the Phoenix, who have a responsibility to participate and accurately report on our arts community.
My response was by no means directed solely at the Phoenix or Braithwaite, but anyone who can't break the habit of dissing the arts in Boston. While you keep living in the past, the rest of us have been hard at work. As best said by Jay Electronica, "You either build or destroy where you come from." You can continue to nitpick the city, or pay close attention to creative sociocultural change, document and report it. In any case, when you're done crying about how much everything sucks, you can find the rest of us at Picó Picante.
Rah, rah, rah,
Cavallo's full letter is at zillaboston.com/2012/08/16/buildordestroy
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