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This is Bernard Gabriel. My guest this broadcast has long been one of the major figures of Hollywood history. I won't attempt any list of credits because his achievements as a playwright author producer and motion picture executive have been nothing short of staggering. Just to give you an idea he was producer or executive of some three hundred fifty films including Bad Day At Black Rock sunrise a camp of Bellotti in sympathy spiral staircase and crossfire. As an author he's been a contributor to The New York Sunday Times Magazine Saturday Review Atlantic Monthly reporter and this week to mention just a very few publications. Oh he's won many Oscars Oscars Tonys Academy Awards and honorary degrees from colleges. If you haven't already guessed his name it's Dori Sheri. And for 12 years the last 12 years he has been writing and producing for the theater in New York City and now well only recently anyway he's
embarked on a new career that of Mayor Lindsay's commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the city of New York. Mr. Sherry commissioner Sherry is the office of commissioner of Cultural Affairs a new post in New York City or have you had a predecessor that I can't recall now it is a actually the post was on what's called a city line but it was never filled. And I am the first one to occupy that post. Let me ask you when did you take office. I actually took office the end of April this year. And might I ask you what are the chief matters that are concerning you and in this new post. Because I don't think many of us know very much about it. While the commissioner of Cultural Affairs the range of his duties involve the expenditure of the maintenance of libraries museums landmarks theaters you know publicly owned theaters like the theater
the Shakespeare Festival and also the programming cultural programming throughout the city has been a heavy concentration in the past years on some of programming. And one of the things I want to do is to expand this programming throughout the winter season. In addition we this department is responsible for various sculpture projects throughout the city in the parks. In front of public buildings and matters such as that it's a job with a lot of responsibility some of it I hope will be very creative. Others are strictly administrative. That's the that's the kind of function of the job. But as I say it's wide ranging and sometimes quite a burden. But it's exciting and does it involve a lot of money. I mean to get all these projects underway you know yeah it
involves a lot of money most of the money goes for those institutions that are already established. Where did it come from. It comes from city funds and some of it however particularly those funds that have to do with programming come from. The aid you get from foundations and public benefactors who participate in arranging for programs to be done and also from business. Business has begun to take a much greater interest in our programs. I did a program not too long ago with getting cheeky perhaps you know him big business to me and of course he's heavily involved on the committee as with business all around the country and sport for arts. Yes and I guess it's pretty important that they do because a lot of important artistic projects are just about ready to close up shop without some aid of this sort of federal aid. While some some are in difficulty others are being.
Either revived or continued and some of the some of the projects are new. One of the chief difficulties for those of us involved in this work is to make a selection. There's an enormous list of organizations people institutions that want help and need help. It's a question whether we can satisfy all of them. And yet the big organization seems to seem to be the ones that get help. Easiest it seems to me it seems that the lone artist musician who isn't an enormous name already has the hardest time getting any kind of lift to boost support. Call it what you want I think that's true and I think one of the objectives I have in mind is to provide workshops for young people. Who have not yet earned their reputations giving them an opportunity to work in some sort of compatible circumstances and give them enough money to
continue to express themselves and hopefully achieve some sort of reputation. You know they musicians used to be able to appear possibly for nothing even on many radio stations. Most radio stations now don't even have a piano. Nothing is live and there's almost no opportunity even gratis for a young musician to appeared. Of course television I think not a tall. Maybe you may be a very little bit. I went to the educational station but the opportunities instead of becoming greater. It seems to me becoming less in some respects. Well if you're talking about the dénouement tried artists that might be true but on the other hand when you consider the enormous increase in the amount of radio time in television time. And time available through new orchestras through concert programs I think there's a greater opportunity for young people. I really don't in some ways yes handsomely Yes. You know I've been reading a lot
in the newspapers about something called the people. Yes. Which I think was taken from the title of a Sandburg. It's so I love assembler. Yes and I understand that this is a venture utilizing the mole and a literary walk in Central Park now. And I think it's for the various ethnic groups that make up New York City to contribute something of their cultural achievements and individualistic attainments in the arts what we have going on that you know about and I don't know what we have in mind we have planned an eight day festival from October the 11th to October the 18th inclusive and each day there will be a 10 hour program of entertainment from noon until 10:00 o'clock at night. We have the aid. We have commitments from some 39 or 40 different ethnic groups. The range is quite extraordinary. Irish Italian
Jewish black. Hispanic Estonian Russian Chinese Japanese Scotch. I think that in many worlds fair while it is kind of a mini World's Fair and it's a wonderful coincidence that this all will be taking place during the 25th anniversary of the United Nations. The thrust of our festival is to kind of develop a demonstration of all the cultures the art the artifacts the music the foods of all the various cultures there are a number of booths set to be something like 45 booths on the sea area and people will be able to wander around and look see in some instances buy things and they will be exposed to the entertainment of all these various groups from
greased pole climbing to Japanese tea services to Scottish dances to. Afro hip break folk songs to play. It's quite an extraordinary amount of entertainment and quite an extraordinary extraordinary demonstration of what we owe to each other in the way of our cultures. I don't believe in this. This concept really of a melting pot in terms of everything being melted down and no one in some homogenized form. I believe it imperative that various groups whether they're hyphenated groups or not retain some of their traditional cultures because this I believe is the matrix that has made America strong. And if we come into some sort of pasteurized American I think that would be a very sad thing. Now this is for a week in October now to write this something that you envision
continuing in the next 30 past that being done at regular intervals while I would hope that we could make this yearly event one week one week it will be one while it's actually eight solid days and you're bound to get some good web cast while you were hoping hoping that we have that. It could be done indoors almost as well in that it could I think I think the idea of having it outdoors is a little more exciting. And we just hope we get a good period of Indian Summer and the rain stays away. We'll just pray that we get good weather. Yeah. Commissioner Sherry I wonder if you would also say a little more than you have about some of the other projects that are under your jurisdiction and which are kind of coming about soon. While there are many things in which we are involved we continue always our various festivals throughout the city. We participate and we
want to enlarge the entire aspect of workshops this is one of my main objectives now beginning. What does that mean as workshops. Wow what we want to do and I think it's it's a necessity for this city which is a large city there's been a complaint and in some instances justified that our department has concentrated too much on Manhattan. We want to move to a greater degree out into the boroughs. We want to go out and begin to develop in the barrios their own kind of groups that want to do what they want to do sometimes things are sent into there by Rosa don't relate to them and they want they do have councils of the arts which I don't believe are being funded in the way they should be funded and I hope that we'll be able to get more money to do something to help them out and have them form their own groups and have training programs for instance one in the barrios
of Puerto Rican community. They have various ideas on how they can use the art form not only to stimulate artists but to create trained and skilled artisans who will then be able to go out into the commercial field and earn a living. There's a program that's been given us which we're now trying to finance a fabric making. They want to make Hispanic fabrics. They have a training program that would involve 40 apprentices over a period of years who then will be trained and have to go out into the commercial field and operate in the fabric industry. I think that's important because and I don't to give these young people an opportunity to express themselves but to learn an art form and to relate it to life itself and I try to relate it to the entire city and indeed to the entire country. Let me ask you this. Some people feel that there is almost
to speak of music particularly that there's almost too much music going on all the time now days with transistor radios going almost 24 hours each day. Music coming at you in elevators restaurants literally everywhere you go so that people some people feel that there's a they're surfeited with music now what's your reaction to that. Well I'm kind of I'm inclined to believe that there's a great justification in that complaint. You know as this far as your Mayor Wagner former Mayor Wagner when he did a little interview with me recently he thought there's never enough music. I think that's a nice noble position to say you know but I do believe that there's a point of satiety and when we live in. A crowded urban area such as New York where we are hummed the noise. One of the most relaxing things that can happen to any of us is to just quiet and just read and have time to meditate and concentrate on the printed word rather than the spoken
word. That'll be the day when you can get people in New York City to do that again. While I think I think it's very possible I know that. My job keeps me moving around quite a bit and I'm Rashid's by the sounds of the city and very often when I get into an elevator you have that few seconds where you say why. It's just and suddenly outcomes blaring some more music at you know. So I do believe that it's reached a point where we don't have to have quite as much as we can but I don't think there's anything we can do about it just have to hit everybody that way and I just have to swallow it. Yet all I've ever worn out get worn out eventually. I think so. Which leads me to ask you how much support do you feel that government on a federal level also on the municipal level should give to an art like music. Other countries I understand Give have been giving radio more much more and even feels like educational radio and television. I was talking to Peter Hermann
Adler you know of any TV and he said that this country. You know from the government point of view it has gives less than any other country he could think of. While I'm not sure that that would be an accurate statement because we certainly don't want to hear that I think you know correctly I was given more than timing on average but there are that well so much smaller countries who do much better and I've got to watch out there but you know I was thinking of the big countries of Europe out now I think that we need more out and I think the government has a responsibility to do something about it because when we speak really in the broad sense of culture we're talking about really communication and we have to communicate our aspirations innermost feelings about deciding which we live and that's done through the medium of various arts. Now I'm all for greater aid. I have some reservations about such aid particularly on the federal or state level.
If there are any strings attached that's what everybody is afraid of. Now I know that we have a problem right here we often finance entertainment and some of it is. The kind of entertainment that receives protests from some of our audiences particular their pre performances some of our groups are occasionally inclined to get a little explicit. They sometimes use four letter words that offend some people. Now if we start moving in and trying to censor these groups then we're doing precisely the wrong thing. I think you have to talk to these people. If they do reach a point where they become where they offend some people explain what their responsibilities are. But for us to move in and start censoring them would be precisely what I'm opposed to. Yeah. If you give You have to take the risk that not all of it will be good. Not all of it will suit your taste. Not all of it
will be you know exceptionally palatable. But that's the risk you have to take. I can. Having been around quite awhile thank God I can remember the day yeah. And there were many people put on various lists as being subversive because they wrote what they wanted to write. And if we get to a point where the government begins to give us aid but puts certain restrictions and interdictions upon us then I don't think the aid is of any value at all it has to be given freely taking all the risks that go along. Is there a mood now a greater mood of government interest in the arts and it would include the municipal situation. Oh I know that that's true certainly in New York I think merely by appointing you apparently. I don't know that he has a can a real concern himself while he has a real concern that's been demonstrated. He loves the theater. He loves various
art forms vitally interested in it. And I think he means that I know he means it. Let me ask you about a little idea I have yet of inducing public officials politicians to just pose perhaps with young musicians who have distinguished themselves in one way I'm thinking of the series Musicians just for a picture in the press a congratulatory pat on the back. Don't you think if this were publicized around the country by the new services and so on you know a lot of it that this might do a little bit for our image abroad and give a boost to young musicians and also help their managers sell these young artists. You know I wish I could agree with you wholeheartedly on that because what you say certainly comes out of your deep interest and want to move to young artists I'm not sure it would do any good. The fact is that if you've first of all you consider the mayor's time that it was while it isn't a half a minute the artist has to come down there you
have to get the photographer. He's got you know although I wasn't he. Yes but it does take time but I have to be Marilyn. There are any kind of wow do you know that many politicians are many politicians who do this I know during the course of a week I find myself posing with various people and I never read some of them are less worthy of some of the fine young artists who have you know I'm talking about Jim. Oh you don't you are some young people. But those pictures don't find their way to that. If they print you know they wind up in some obscure little paper or some neighborhood it is chic. I think that a young artist sash for the pain and getting opportunities through his management through whatever age there are and that give him an opportunity to express themselves. He is covered in many instances by critics and well they need time I want to be organisational and your identity. You know any form of art expression is a tough field
and anybody going into it should know that he has to know it and he's kidding himself if he can just if he figures it'll happen overnight. Why shouldn't young artists also appear in a minute or two of their performance at various public functions that have maybe only the Star-Spangled Banner moment of rock or something. Well the fact is that many do or they do many of them do appear popular but I guarantee you have in many of the city functions for instance. You do have young people performing in virus ways. Pianists violinists. Oh sure if you wander around the city let me just tell you this. Just let me tell you that during our summer programming for instance. There have been twenty four hundred different performances throughout this city some done by amateurs. Some of them done by young people some of them done by professionals. So there's a real wide range of opportunity.
Let me just ask you this. Many thoughtful people at present find that in rock and roll we now have the true musical expression of our times and not just the popular side of music but a type of music to be taken very seriously as an art form and to be considered perhaps the true expression of today and possibly of the coming future how do you feel and what I think that rock and roll does express the the attitude to particular of our young people today just as various forms of popular music expect expression excuse me the concepts of young people years ago that's just what I mean all that was considered in popular music now they're trying to make it into a serious thing they really are. While I'm not sure that that's true that you'll find in rock n roll. It's a kind of development I find in some of the more quiet rock and roll songs in the form of English madrigals which I think will remain permanent. There are many songs that will remain part
of American musical folklore some of them however meant most of them will be forgotten. Just as when you wrote we were in case some of the best yet only debate live will survive. You mention Sherry among your many interests. Several activities of community and national interest I know you have been honorary are not honorary but just CHAIRMAN Well I think honorary and chairmen of the Anti-Defamation League the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Foundation president of the dramatists guild fun member of the National Citizens Committee for broadcasting the citizens crusade against poverty. These are but a few. Is there something that you might feel very keenly about in connection with some of these activities that you'd like to say a word about. Well I believe that any any person concerned with the arts has a responsibility to involve themselves in a much broader sense with the community life around him. My chief interests have been my work with the Anti-Defamation League. I work with interfaith groups and with
interracial groups. And these concerns me very deeply. I don't get as much time right now to do as much as I'd like to do on the outside but my work fortunately and one of the reasons it made me accept Mayor Lindsey's invitation to take this job was because it would put me in a in an atmosphere and in the environment where I could do the kind of work I'm most interested in which is to deal with interaction between people. I imagine that you have a secret and that is how you have time to do even half the commanders that you have done in these well in the last 20 years. Wow. I think number one you have to have I suppose you don't waste a second I'm sure I have to be very very busy. I do find time I must find time and I have found time all my life for my family too and I'm very devoted. But I think it's a question of. Up priorities.
I don't have many hobbies. My only sport is tennis and I don't play that nearly as much as I'd like to be able to play. I have to sacrifice things like bridge playing which I like to do and I just have to give time to those things that I think are important in this very troubled world. I think we all have this kind of priority the fact is I always have a sense that I'm not doing quite as much as I'd like to do and I suppose that's a good way to feel it prevents you from giving up. And I'm sure you never waste willingly a second so many of us do. I sometimes realise that in hours gone by and I've done almost nothing with it I'm sure I never have and it's not you know it does happen you know and you have to do that you have to have that that hour we were talking about before. I don't know why a meditation of recharging your batteries you have to have that and that gives you renewed energy to get at those things you want to just carry Is there
anything that we the people of New York can do to make art in this city a more vital force even than it is. And while I think yes I think everyone should become involved in support of organizations or associations that deal with various art forms they have to involve themselves in that art to which they respond by supporting various musical groups or artistic groups or dramatic groups and do something about attending those shows that they hear are good and supporting them helping them along they have to go out of their way to give aid to young artists who are starving. There are many things they can master but he can graduate them we the people get to go back to the right. Let me I don't have to ask you whether you have any plans for getting back to films after being in
Hollywood so long being such a vital force there I should think you'd hate to kind of leave it or do you feel Hollywood is finished. While Hollywood isn't finished Hollywood has changed it's not the Hollywood I know and some of these change for the better some is change for the worst. I had 24 quite marvelous and extraordinary years in California and I loved it very much my children grew up there. But Hollywood as it is today is not an attractive medium for me and I'm busy now with another job. I pray that I have time in the future to try my hand at doing something else in the theatre or perhaps a motion picture. Well for a final question do you feel that the films have been an important influence on music today such a tremendous What shall I call it as thing in our lives this film do you think that it would seem to me that of course it's been a lot of background music mood music. Certainly they've introduced a lot of popular songs and rock and so on but I wonder has it been as big an influence as you might think it had it would.
While I think certain films have again one it's very hard to draw a generalization I found in the years I worked in Hollywood an executive. Very often I'd say look we want no music in this picture. No music no music at all. Pictures such as executive suite. I spoke to the producer John Houseman I said let's make this picture with no musical score at all we just use sound and it was very important when you talk about for instance rock n roll a picture that we worked on and MGM Blackboard Jungle we used to rock around the clock clock and we know that that kind of spurred a whole sort of thing because the picture and the music meshed. There are certain films that you see today in which there's an over use of film where they go back to cliches that we tried to abandon many years ago and we used to have fun I know and the old days watching certain musical cues we knew that at that moment would be a crash of cymbals or suddenly there'd be
a lone kind of low brass you know and we knew just where the music was going to come in. And it's gotten very cliche and I'm sorry to say. And some of the new pictures I see there's nothing new about them at all they use the same old cliches about musical scoring. I have a very interesting commissioner story Sherry. It's been my great privilege to have had this chat with you and to learn about the current projects and the future plans that you envisage in your new post of New York's commissioner of Cultural Affairs. And I think that Marilyn he should be congratulated for inducing you to take over this important position. Thank you for joining me. This has been Bernard Gabriel Wishing all a most musical. We thank you. This program was acquired with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
Bernard Gabriel
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Dore Schary
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Bernard Gabriel; 37; Dore Schary,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
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