I had an interesting coffee meeting with Jim Poyser a couple of weeks ago. Everyone knows Jim; he was the longtime editor at NUVO and an all-around cool guy. The conversation was easy fun. Jim has been an arts supporter for as long as he's been in the public eye. We knew that side of him. But there was another side, another passion of his that led him to quit his job to better educate kids and adults on global warming.
Naturally, Jim uses the arts to talk about the ecosystem and climate change. He is now presenting a monthly game show called The Ain't Too Late Show at the IndyFringe Basile Theatre every third Tuesday at 6 p.m. It even opens with a small band, a male and female singer, to warm up the crowd and provoke some laughs. But there is a serious issue behind the fun. Jim is trying to make people aware that humans do indeed contribute to global warming. The way we use our power, our cars, our leaf blowers--the way we live affects the health of our world.
Jim is now in this position where he's intersecting the arts and climate change and trying to get people in Indy to care. Intrigued by the concept of a game show about the ecosystem, hosted in a theater by a guy with a background in the arts, I went to IndyFringe last Tuesday night. Maybe 30 other people showed up. During part of the show, audience members become contestants and are challenged to answer questions such as, "what does a new study say diesel exhaust does to bees?" and "what makes Kentucky a particularly problematic place for pipelines?" With each answer the audience also gets a moment to chime in.
I thought it was really cool of Jim to use an audience he knows and an area in which he's familiar to create social change. When I think about it, the arts are an entry point, like bait. Art can be used to have a conversation about equity and justice. Art can solve issues of crime and safety in rotten neighborhoods. And, in this case, the arts can even cover global warming and save lives. It's inspiring and offers a different perspective on the arts.
We know now that art can live outside of a museum and that it goes beyond fine paintings and sculptures. But talking to Jim and seeing him attempt to change the world provided an entirely new perspective on the arts and how they can be used. Maybe art doesn't always have to be a physical project; what if it's a concept into how you approach change? Maybe it's something you carry with you as an underlying element into any kind of work? Kudos to Jim for taking the leap into a completely new arena and for taking art with him.