You may have noticed that over the last few years, City Arts has been digging deeper and deeper into the issues and injustices that define our time. Often our coverage of these concerns comes via the artists we feature, whose work frequently orbits or intersects with the pressing problems of today. But sometimes our coverage is more direct, addressing news and politics as important components of culture all on their own. In this issue, you’ll see some of both.
Online, our columnist Shaun Scott writes regularly about thorny issues of inequity. His most recent column tackled Seattle’s employee head tax, along with the cultural, historical and political roots of the successful effort to repeal it. The column went viral, so much so that it briefly crashed our site. Most of the feedback we received took the form of thanks—Shaun is a gifted defender of the disenfranchised—but a few folks took issue with us covering the head tax at all, saying that politics have no place in City Arts and that art should remain impartial and uninvolved.
Let me be clear: This magazine has zero intention of backing off on political matters. As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Artists are uniquely equipped to confront the challenges we face locally, nationally and globally. Day in and day out, they are practitioners of empathy, whether by nature, vocation or both. They persist in the face of risk, humiliation and failure, charting their own course against brutal odds and depressing financial returns. These hard-won experiences give them conviction and courage in an era marked by cowardice and convenience.
Something beautiful lies beneath all that grit: vision. The artist perceives an almost extra-sensory inspiration, plucks it from the ether and renders it in reality so that the rest of us may bear witness and glean some understanding of humanity that, until then, had eluded us. This is the very definition of life on the vanguard, at the horizon line, ever awakening to progress.
Journalists and artists share a commitment to truth. And though we at City Arts are not without our failures and flaws, we endeavor to do what’s right.
See you out there,
Editor in Chief