DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter was accepted into a small, prestigious performing arts program in New York City, instead of a traditional college. From the time she was a small child, she has never wanted to do anything else with her life other than pursue her art.
She received wide recognition locally and at her high school, and all of her teachers and mentors have told us that she has the passion and the talent to be successful. We proudly provide the financial support she needs to take this next step, and we are all well aware of how difficult it is to “make it” in the performing arts.
How do we deal with people who seem to view all of this as amusing folly? People constantly ask her what she will do “to support herself” if she can’t find work in her field. They advise us to “make” her switch to a “real” school. When they ask about an alternative career path, we say there is no Plan B. And then they say things like we’ll be supporting her forever, be ready for her to boomerang back home, etc.
The arts elevate us in good times and soothe our souls in bad times. Everyone wants to live in a place with good culture. So why aren’t people more supportive of the artists who are striving to bring beauty into the world? Not everyone can be an accountant or a software engineer!
GENTLE READER: Indeed. And that would be a charming and deflective response to nosy dissenters. But while Miss Manners commends your passion, she urges you to focus your energies on your daughter’s contribution to the arts, rather than efforts to convince the world of its significance. With any luck, your daughter will eventually be able to do that by example.