In Praise of My
I’ve had an ambivalent relationship with
Last week, Maman and I went to see a South African choral group at the renovated . owntown We were able to walk to the theater from free, safe, well-lit parking. Many families had dined at the nicest Italian restaurant in town, just across the street from the venue. Before the show, the theater’s director took a moment to thank all of the collaborators including local businesses and other arts organizations such as the Community Theater. The performance was wonderful, but the real beauty lies in the greater infrastructure. This show was just one of many billed for the season for the renovated theater, which coordinated its schedule so as to complement those of the local high school drama productions, symphony concerts and art center programs. While this event was on the more expensive side, there are many free or low cost (<$10) programs available to people of every age in the community. There are extension classes (ceramics, ballroom dancing, Spanish), poetry readings, and a river festival which attracts local artists and performers.
Perhaps a more community-minded person would have noticed this earlier, but as a natural introvert I participated in many programs due to availability. Tout ça (all that) seemed de rigeur as an angsty adolescent, until the day I visited some friends who live in the suburbs of Urban Metropolis. I asked where the local theaters, museums and cinemas were and they pointed me downtown (at least a 30 minute drive). Due to the community’s affluent nature, the local government didn’t fund many summer programs as most kids took private music/swimming/ACT/underwater basketweaving lessons. A large and vibrant artistic community exists in Urban Metropolis, but it is located far away from where most people (of all socioeconomic classes) live and work.
I’m grateful to have grown up in a place with a strong sense of community and hope that these programs survive the coming state budget cuts. Private donors can, have and will fill the gaps but there’s something powerful about a proclaiming the arts a public good. Not a passe-temps for the elite, but open so that all may find the beauty and creativity in and around themselves. During a session on development, PC staffers talked to us about listening to our communities and how some might want to build a recreation area more than renovate the health center. Host Country has a long history of artistic production, particularly in film. I’ve particularly enjoyed reading about how Volunteers use computers, crayons, paintbrushes and plays to give their communities tools of expression.