A Call To Action


Authors and Artists of All Kinds


Their Readers and Supporters

"Art for art's sake" was a bohemian rallying cry in nineteenth-century, European literary and artistic circles, expressing the philosophy that “true art” has no other purpose than its own “being,” not didactic, not utilitarian, not moral, not religious, and not political. The phrase itself is seldom heard today, but the underlying principle is firmly embedded in practice. Rare is the novel, play, painting, film, or any other creative work, that attempts to convey a societal "message." This is particularly true in the field I know best, serious fiction, where the characters' moral universe generally doesn't extend beyond their minds and deeds.

“Arts for action’s sake” harks back to an older tradition of artistic expression, when works of art of all kinds were created not only to entertain, engage, and illuminate human character, but also to communicate information or stimulate emotions that would lead to positive change in society, or strengthen socially valuable behavior or beliefs. This tradition can be traced from Homer and Vergil to Giotto and the Sistine Chapel to Shakespeare’s history plays to Fidelio to Les Misérables and Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Grapes of Wrath and 1984, with countless, treasured creative works in between. In other words, art with a purpose.

This need for a societal mission for the arts owes its resurgence to the perilous state of our country and our planet, and the deep divisions that exist in politics, government, scientific and religious beliefs, nations, and peoples. When polled, two-thirds of our citizens consistently believe the country is heading down the wrong track. Over half disapprove of the policies and behavior of our current president, and think both major parties are out of touch with the concerns of the average person. There is still no broad agreement about the existence of climate change or the reasons why it might be occurring. Religious intolerance is approaching the level of the Middle Ages. Opioid addiction is becoming the last refuge of the economically forsaken. The list could go on and on.

“Art for art’s sake” was a reaction to the prudery, hypocrisy, and conventional tastes of bourgeois society. These concerns are inconsequential compared with the issues and problems now facing our country and our planet. As a novelist, arts4actionsake.com is one small way I can put my talent and energy to work to help bring about positive change. As fellow authors, or artists of any kind, or readers or supporters of the arts, I urge you to join me to do the same.

—Garth Hallberg

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Take a deep breath, dive in and flail around. You’ll hit someone. Let’s hope it’s the right one.AAA: in Freud’s words: action alleviates anxietySOLD