Subject: Letter to the Editor - The Oklahoma Gazette (10-14-09)
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
Regarding Joe Wertz’s Sept. 30, 2009, article “Oklahoma Rock City: To take in music here, locals have to leave their seats” in Oklahoma Gazette:
After reading the article, I noticed a glaring omission from both the article and possible ways to cultivate a thriving metro area, and even statewide, music industry: smoke-free!
A state that cares about cultivating and keeping its talent must also look after their local talent’s well-being. A statewide coalition of partners called Musicians for Smoke-free Oklahoma has been working to get the state 100 percent smoke-free. While working on smoke-free over the past few years at the state Capitol, when referencing the need to protect our musicians health our group has repeatedly heard our state legislators say, “They can go and get a job someplace else.
While the article address other reasons why musicians are leaving the state, a good comprehensive plan to retain local and statewide talent would also be wise to include improving the unhealthy work environment that our musicians must currently work in. The article states that Austin, Texas, is most often mentioned by city officials, business leaders and concertgoers as model for OKC. Austin is smoke-free. It became smoke-free when its local musicians and their fans wanted to protect the health of its artists and performers.
Oklahoma needs to do the same. Our state does not provide the same protection as other comparable jobs in comparable cities. Current law does not give restaurant and bar employees the same job protections that other jobs may have and when those employees try and improve their situation are told to “go and get a job someplace else.”
The same groups of legislators that flock in droves to get their pictures taken with Oklahoma musicians turn around and vote against or block legislation that would protect their work environment. This is a health issue and not a private property issue. Our coalition is not against smokers; we just want them to take it outside. Musicians for Smoke-free Oklahoma would like to see a comprehensive plan to keep talent in our state; a plan that doesn’t just look at venue and club- lined streets and poster plastered walls but also the health of its talent.
Paula James Warlick
Warlick is grassroots manager for Musicians for Smoke-free Oklahoma