The Inalienable Right To Be Untalented

Busy into the evening tonight so I thought these brief thoughts from New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, shared by Isaac Butler might be a good subject to ponder.

This resonates with the whole Pro-Am (Professional Amateurs) conversation from the early 2000 as well as the concept that everyone has the capacity to be creative.   There has always been a tension between the idea that insiders are gatekeeping the definition of who is an artist/creative and the concept that one should be investing time and energy into honing their abilities if they sincerely want to cultivate their creativity.

Kael notes that the untrained/no-talent has a capacity to verge off in interesting directions while having the freedom of producing something perfectly awful. The two states are not mutually exclusive since the germ of something interesting and inspired can be hidden amid the dross.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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