Sunday, November 9, 2008

Arts and the Economy

There were a couple of good articles in the Cape Cod Times this week about the arts and the collapsing economy: Economy Gives Art Lovers the Blues, and Finding New Ways to Make Art Pay the Bills, both by Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll.

They address both the negative effects of the recession (or worse) on the arts (fewer ticket sales and art purchases, less willingness to drive long distances for art, theater, and musical events, higher costs and less income for artists and performers, etc.), as well as the spiritual need for art in times of distress.

Driscoll quotes Jerome Karter, executive director of the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra: "In difficult times, it's always been the case that people do want to continue to hear great performances and great music. This is a crisis. People do look for refuge sometimes, and we certainly remain a spiritual refuge."

She also quotes Andrew Polk, artistic director of the Cape Cod Theatre Project in Falmouth, who said, "I think that people turn to theater, in times of crisis and uncertainty. This is a time when people come together--for solace, wisdom and transformation. There is no better place to find these things---than in the theater."

I am in agreement, and hopeful that sold-out performances at several concerts I recently attended are indicative of people's interest in, and willingness to support, the arts, even now. Here on the Cape, the arts are an important aspect of the local economy, benefiting the tourist industry as well as the arts. But, the role of the arts in nurturing the soul, whether one is creator or audience, is crucial, in today's economy, and always.

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