The Man in the Arena Speech

I received several requests for the passage I read at the November meeting, so I thought I would include it here.  It was from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.”  Sometimes referred to as “The Man in the Arena” speech, Roosevelt delivered it at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, April 23, 1910.  I drew its reference from Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly book which I highly recommend for anyone interested in living an examined life.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

As artists we open ourselves to critique and exposed vulnerability.  It is not enough to do the work.  It is only half the process.  Showing the work is the other half.  The exhibition is what completes it.  Some may argue that it is enough to create for oneself.  I allow the argument to stand, however it is my belief that art is intended to be shared, to be enjoyed, reveled, or contemplated.  The exchange is the medicine of the art and the artist, the gift that is given to the world.

However, as Creatives, we can consciously decide who can influence us by recognizing the wealth of their grit in relation to our own. Remembering to align ourselves with others who are in the arena doing the difficult work rather than playing it safe on the sideline leaves us open to honest feedback that promotes growth, development or our own insight to bloom.

As an organization we continue to raise the bar as leaders in the arts community.  AAG’s commitment to the promotion of the arts and artists through education, exhibition and outreach continues to build our reputation and our reach.  We are in the arena, making a difference and transforming lives. Thank you for being a part of that be it through your physical and/or fiscal contributions.  We couldn’t do it without you. Please think of AAG for your year-end donation.

On behalf of the board, I wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season. May the upcoming year be abundant with creative growth and expression.


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