Past Commentaries

January Issue 2000
by Tom Starland

The New Millennium?

If I can borrow from Jerry Seinfeld for a minute - What is it with this "New" millennium thing? I have a hard enough time remembering the previous decade, let alone half of the last century. A millennium is a thousand years. Who cares if this year is the last year of the last millennium or the first year of the next millennium? I'm more concerned with next week. And, Y2K - forget about it!

And, what about all these Top 100 or Best of the Millennium lists? How stupid can they get? Everyone always thinks that their time is the best time. Personally, I think the last 12 years have been the high point of the millennium for me. I guess historians looking back will call those years the "Shoestring Years". They'll be talking about Gutenberg, Apple's Macintosh, and Shoestring Publishing Company as the great millennium of publishing. Right!

Reflection, Reassessment & Reality Check

Back in 1995, when I first decided to expand our paper from being a paper covering the visual arts in the Charleston area to including other areas - I had no intention of becoming an arts missionary. I don't think it's our mission or responsibility to include areas who don't seem to care if anyone knows what they are doing in their community outside their local newspaper's coverage. If they don't care, why should I? Our paper operates on the for-profit principle. We don't receive funding from local, state or federal sources to cover the visual arts without exception - so why should we?

What this means is that some of the areas in both North and South Carolina who have been getting a free ride, for three to five years, will see their coverage and our paper disappear - the free lunch is over. It also means that by shifting resources that are being unproductive in one area, we can move into some areas that have been lobbying for us to come to their area. I'm ready for some changes, but there will be no more free rides. So, in the new year we will be concentrating on areas in the Carolinas that are interested in communicating in this global economy and supporting our efforts to assist them in doing just that.

Every year at this time I go into my reassessment mode. Now is the time to make suggestions of what you would like to see in the paper. Just remember, making suggestions is easy - making those suggestions a reality is harder. Keep in mind our limited resources and be careful what you ask for - you just might get it.

Becoming More Pro-active

Everyone knows that the easiest thing to do in the world is to criticize the efforts of others. Doing it in public and on the record - well that's another thing altogether. Frankly, it's one of the things I love about doing this paper. Some people make it so easy to criticize what they do. And, the majority of our readers seem to enjoy my particular brand of it. But, not wanting to be known as a one dimensional kind of guy - I'm going to start putting some physical effort behind my words this year.

After 12 years of seeing what seems to work and what doesn't, I'm going to see if I can't personally be a little more pro-active in making a better environment for the visual arts. That means not only using this paper as a vehicle for change, but my own physical efforts. Over the years, I've maintained a policy of not getting involved in certain efforts because I felt it would be hard to be objective as editor and publisher of this paper. But heck, who cares about staying objective anymore. A lot of people don't think I'm very objective anyway - so why try?

I'm going to be asking some people to join me on my crusade, but I want everyone to know right from the start - there is nothing I hate more than wasting my time. I've done enough of that, sitting in on art summits, listening to artists whine, and waiting for other established organizations to do something right for once. I don't mind talking, but I want to see results for my time. Don't you?

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