The unemployment rate is currently at 8.1% That’s the U3 index – not the U6. Which basically means that it doesn’t include all the people who were not working for various reasons like maternity leave, having been in prison, having already been unemployed, working part time, etc. The U6 is more like 15%.
In the nation’s history, we have had 10 months with similar statistics in the past 30 years. 4 of them were the past 4 months in a row.
I heard this news today on NPR’s money podcast and having just returned from Italy I can’t help but think ‘so what?’ Not because I’m some cruel person, not because I have my job and don’t care about others, but having just spent the last 8 days marveling at works created by Donatello, Michelangelo, Giotto, and other ninja turtles, I began to wonder: How does this recession affect the arts?
Think about it. Millions of people out of work. Millions of people who might play piano or guitar or song-write in their spare time. Millions who gave up their dream of painting, sculpting, or singing because it couldn’t earn them money.
Now faced with only the prospect of job-hunting and idle hands, how many people will return to the pen and the page after spending a few hours monotonously tweaking resumes and making phone calls to prospective employers?
Could this recession yield a new renaissance in American art? Will the next Beatles form or the next Michelangelo emerge? Will people start drawing ideas from the collective human subconscious now freed from the bonds of constantly seeking money be suddenly flooded with desire and passion for something more creative than a spreadsheet?
Granted not everyone will have the means to buy paints or instruments but my thinking is we’ll see an influx of musicians, artists, writers, and thinkers dedicating a much more significant portion of time to what was once their hobby. It will be interesting to see what impact the recent economic downfall has on our artforms, and I for one and am excited at the possibility of the results.