Education has been a topic of heated debate in American politics for quite some time. We’ve heard the same arguments over and over again. Schools are underfunded and teachers are overwhelmed. College is too expensive. And now, the coronavirus pandemic presents new challenges related to remote learning, technology, and accessibility. Despite endless policy discussions about these reasonable concerns, we seem to have reached a stalemate. America’s economic and military power has permitted a complacent stance on education. As a result, there has been no unified vision or sense of urgency in regards to a long term strategy for our educational…


Not all screen time is created equal.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s sudden, dramatic impact on our educational system has administrators and teachers across the nation scrambling to build virtual infrastructures. The immediate, widespread dependency upon virtual tools to continue educating our students in the midst of an unprecedented international crisis has made us realize that the potential problems of the future are now the real problems of today.

The challenges that accompany this transition go beyond mere inconveniences. WiFi disparities and overwhelmed servers can result in connection issues, which disrupt workflow and waste time troubleshooting. There’s often an inherent discomfort in…


An opera singer serenades a quarantined Florence from his balcony. An artist makes coronavirus-inspired art. A renowned violinist performs a virtual concert from her living room. Despite our current isolation and despair, the arts are helping us feel connected. In fact, the impact of mass concert cancellations and public art events is creating a virtual arts renaissance.

We’ve all heard the common arguments for art and music in our schools and our society. Music helps math and science scores. Painting reduces stress. While these benefits are absolutely true, we often forget that the arts foster critical thinking, innovation, and empathy…


Over the past decade, I have traveled to 26 countries filming documentaries about classical music. While researching my first documentary Maestro, I stumbled across a remarkable story that few Americans have ever heard. Deeply moved by its symbolism and timely relevance, I found myself returning to it for my latest documentary, Nordic Pulse.


Some books have the power to change the way we think about the world.

  1. The Meaning of Human Existence by E.O. Wilson

One would imagine a book titled The Meaning of Human Existence to be a multi-volume monster, yet the brilliant evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson has managed to elegantly distill this ancient question into less than two hundred pages. This Pulitzer Prize-winning book reminds us that our purpose is, and has always been, survival. …


A documentary filmmaker challenges you to introduce a new tradition.

This year, two deaths in my family created a void that I have been struggling to process: I no longer have any living grandparents. At 38, I’m fully aware of how lucky I am to have had two sets of loving grandparents throughout most of my life. As the holiday season brings with it a time for reflection, I’ve realized how significant grandparents are to the human experience and the amazing, limited opportunity we have to learn from them.

For the last decade, I have been making documentaries. I am fortunate to have interviewed best-selling authors, Grammy award-winning musicians, Hollywood…


Recent decriminalization of select psychedelics demands more public education.

Earlier this year, the citizens of Denver voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, laying the groundwork for a new chapter in our culture’s relationship with a class of drugs long considered taboo. With promising research focused on the potential benefits of controlled psychedelic use and the growing number of influential voices like Tim Ferriss leveraging their platforms to champion the issue, it’s time for America to have a serious conversation about psychedelics.

Few people are more knowledgeable about the impact of these drugs on the human body, psyche, and spirit, than Dr…


We Must Stop Pretending That Complex Problems can only be Solved Through Politics

There you are at the checkout aisle in your grocery store. You are killing time looking at your smartphone when you see it in the corner of your eye: your two favorite celebrities are cheating on each other. I can’t believe it, you think to yourself, they were the perfect couple. In an instant, you are reading what you know may not even be true, but is too tempting to resist.

There are good reasons why tabloids are placed in the checkout aisle. They appeal to our…


In America, classical music audiences and orchestras seem to be falling like dominoes. The mood is tense and the forecast is dismal. An erosive force, continual and subtle, is eating away the core of a cultural institution. You may have heard this story before: classical music is in decline, music education is so important, but why should you care? Failing orchestras create severe economic, social, and cultural repercussions for our nation as a whole. This is very much your problem.

Orchestras are more than just organizations that perform music. They have a direct impact on local economies. They increase tourism…

David Donnelly

Filmmaker. Writer. Artist. Entrepreneur. www.TheCultureMonster.com

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