The climate that art lives in is a difficult one at best. For years we’ve all dealt with repeated cuts in arts funding for our artists and for arts education by our government. I think it is safe to assume that this course will not be altered soon by either political party. Our European counterparts have been able to lord their government’s support over us, but even they have begun to feel the pinch. This leads one to wonder: who is the next big fish in the pond that will step up and support the arts by contributing substantially to the financial well being of deserving organizations?
In the past, this task has been taken up by some of our larger corporations feeling compelled to support the arts in the communities they do business in. Many of these worthy companies from Ailey to ABT that are supported are national treasures and would have great difficulty existing without those funds. Even corporate America has its limits though and more and more companies are earmarking their funds for “educational” purposes as well as narrowing the focus of other support.
We begin to wonder where next can we turn to support our smaller and more daring arts groups. One thinks of the large foundations that have been extremely generous for years as both political parties have spent more nourishing their pet projects and egos than our country’s soul. Unfortunately even these groups can only do so much. The onus of supporting and to some extent even finding worthy art now that newspapers across the country feature fewer reviews is on the audience. Please don’t think that we’re asking you to put us in your wills or even sign over your next pay check to us. We have to all bare in mind the sad fact that ticket sales never cover the costs of a production. If every organization raised prices to reflect the actual cost of a production our audience sizes would immediately diminish, thereby defeating the goal of getting people to view the work.
What I am suggesting is that if you enjoy the work of a company or an artist that you become a fan. Fans promote the things they love and come back multiple times to show their support and enjoyment. If you’re a fan already take that next step and become a donor. Any amount above the ticket price is always welcome, whether the company in question is your local company or NYCB. By any amount I mean any amount, $1, $5, anything. If 25 people give $1, that’s a pair of tights that the company didn’t have before. If more Americans support the art they enjoy and love then maybe our representatives will get the hint and change their ways.
-Kenneth Walker (Sept. 2008)