Underneath the tidal waves of blockbuster, billion-dollar budget artistic exploit is a quiet sea of small-scale, unique, and often unnoticed creations. From these little masterpieces grow huge phenomena, but our society’s Hollywood and music-superstar mindset keeps these wonders from gaining momentum. So whether it be film, music, art, or otherwise, it’s definitely time to start paying the small arts some mind.
So many people take pride in being in on a trend “before it was cool,” but every band or filmmaker started somewhere, and without attention, would never have gotten any bigger. Events like the Sundance Film Festival, the legendary Coachella, or even Firefly, boast up-and-coming performances each year, and although the headliners attract audiences, they are vastly outnumbered by small acts that give these festivals character and momentum.
Take the 2012 movie Beasts of the Southern Wild.. Premiering at Sundance, with just a 1.8-million- dollar budget (miniscule in the film world), it went on to win countless accolades and awards at festivals and from critics, eventually receiving four Oscar nominations. Without attention from audiences at smaller viewings or at independent theatres, it wouldn’t have made it so far.
Or what about the artists in fine print on concert ads and festival posters, the space fillers? Those musicians are the ones who are only going to get bigger and bigger. In 2008, Vampire Weekend—yes, arguably the most mainstream (and still arguably everyone’s favorite) indie band—was in tiny, tiny print at the very bottom of Coachella’s lineup. Last year, MisterWives was pretty low down on Firefly’s lineup, and at this point, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t heard their song “Reflections.” In less than one year, they made a name for themselves. Back in September, I saw a terrific acoustic band, Falls, open up for Iron and Wine, and just guess who’s on the last line of Firefly’s lineup this year. These small acts have the potential to grow and be noticed, but only if people start paying attention.
And this doesn’t apply solely to music and movies. Next time you’re sipping coffee at Small World, look at the art on the walls—and if you like it, buy it! Go to flea markets or Etsyand find all sorts of creations made by artists who run it on the side of a day job, so that you can preserve what they love to do.
Our culture has been chanting “bigger is better” for too long. If we want to have a diverse, creative culture, we, the cheering audience members, are the ones who must instigate the rise of small artists. It is our collective responsibility to go to an art show, a cheap concert, or an independent movie theatre—and thus spark interest to the talented individuals who contribute to our already multi-faceted world of entertainment.