Laura Kaminsky, New York-based composer of contemporary chamber, vocal, and orchestral music, with social-political topics like environment and war

Kaminsky’s Remarks Upon Receiving the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming

Adventures in the Not-For-Profit Cultural Industrial Complex, January 19, 2014 Chamber Music America Conference.

Thank you, Cia. And thank you Margaret, for your leadership of Chamber Music America. I am deeply honored to be receiving my sixth CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. It is not only an honor, but also a thrill, at this particular juncture in my career, to be recognized for this ephemeral concept we call “adventurous programming.”

The real joy is in being a member of this wonderful, diverse, vibrant community of accomplished artists, and to be surrounded by friends and colleagues, with whom I have collaborated and shared music over many years. We are all, as my youngest sister – who is here today — says, members of the not-for-profit cultural industrial complex, and we are all here because we are compelled to do this work, because what we do is, to a large extent who we are.

We are part of a rich and complex ecosystem of creators, interpreters, aiders-and-abetters, managers, directors, writers, marketers, fundraisers, board members, volunteers, teachers, students, and, of course, audience members. Together we courageously and creatively, noisily, spiritually, and energetically get up every morning because we believe, above all, that the making, interpreting, sharing, and taking in of artistic experience is not only worthwhile, but essential, to our lives, and to the world in which we live. It’s an ecosystem that provides vital nourishment for our hearts and minds.

I want to share four ideas with you.

1. Adventure. What constitutes artistic adventurousness? My answer extends beyond the parameters of this award, which recognizes the presentation of music composed in the last 25 years. I believe that all great art is an adventure. I believe that all art made throughout history, and every art experience we have during our lifetime, is an adventure.

2. Courage. No matter when it was made, each work of art is new, unique, original. That is why art-making is a brave and bold, and sometimes isolating act. It is creating something, from nothing. That “something” comes from the creator’s inner core, from the artist’s urgent need to express something of meaning to be shared.

3. Curatorial responsibility. It is the curator, whose willingness to take risks — determines which artists are presented and what audiences are able to see and hear. For me, the curatorial process is a thoroughly creative and engaged one, with much inquiry involved. It is a lot about intuiting the honesty and integrity behind the work. There is a commitment on my part not to only curate what I favor, but what I respect.

My fourth point – the power of language. I detest the term not-for-profit. I detest it because it implies that art must be measured through a monetary economy – and somehow, in our society, there’s an implication that the not-for-profitness of it all is bad – that somehow this human endeavor that isn’t about money has no value. To my mind, there is enormous, indeed, immeasurable profit from the not-for-profit cultural industrial complex. The profit is to all who make and all who take in the art that is made. We are all richer as human beings for the adventure of art. Thank you.