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Auld Lang Syne
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Published in the Columbia Daily Tribune 31 December 2006

Auld Lang Syne

There are many columns yet to write.  About Poppy's new space.  About the several other venues trying to make an impact on the local art scene.  About the new artist's community space opening up in the Orr Street Studios.  About the many talented local artists I know and respect, and who richly deserve recognition and promotion.  About events, and fairs, and hard-working volunteers.  About area arts educators, and the programs they operate.  About the many triumphs and tragedies which occur in this thriving arts community.  And about new and interesting developments in the broader arts world which will have an impact on Columbia.

Yes, there are many columns yet to write.  But this will be my last one, at least for a while.  With my other obligations at present, I don't get out enough to keep current with the most recent developments in the local art scene.  My knowledge is becoming dated, and I don't have the time and energy to stay fully informed through other means.  That in itself is a shame, since I truly love good art, and am always excited to see the things that others are doing.  And someday I would even like to return to doing art myself.  It feeds the soul in a way nothing else can.

But for now, I'll admit that I am tired.  Partly this is the deep weariness that comes with care-giving over a prolonged period.  But I'm also tired of fighting the same fight, of trying to persuade people that their claim of supporting the arts has to be more than mere words or attendance at parties and receptions - that it has to include buying actual art from actual artists and galleries locally.  Including the time I had Legacy Art, I've been doing this for over a decade.  It has gotten old.  There are only so many ways you can say "open your wallet and buy something, dammit."

And there is another factor in my decision.  You can only be a gadfly for so long before people get sick of you and you stop being effective.  Some people have mistaken my assessments of the hurdles facing the arts and artists with being 'negative.'  I've been told that I am insufficiently rah-rah in promoting Columbia.  (I plead guilty to that:  I believe that one must look at things honestly and realistically in order to have any hope of making improvements.  Just peddling smoke and refusing to acknowledge reality doesn't help anything or anyone.)  But these criticisms are an early indication that I am losing effectiveness.  Rather than becoming more outrageous in my commentary in a hope of garnering attention, I've decided that with this column, I'm going to stop.  Maybe take a break for the time being, maybe just allow this to become another interesting part of my personal history.  We'll see.

In the meantime, I wish to thank my editor and all the good people at the Trib, who labor behind the scenes to bring you news and information that would otherwise just be rumor and random blog-entries.  Real working journalists and a free press are seldom appreciated, until they're gone.

Likewise, I want to thank all those artists and arts administrators who have helped me get the facts straight in my columns.  You all have made me look a lot more knowledgeable and well-informed than I actually am.

Lastly, thanks to those who read my words and responded.  No writer who is honest with himself can deny the joy that comes with being read.

To you all, I say farewell.  As was perhaps best said over two hundred years ago:

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gies a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.


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all work © James T. Downey, 1993-present
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