27 January 2017

A healthy dose of arts advocacy for your travel

Reader alert: what follows is a self-serving post you may or may not like.  You'll live.

this is a skeleton puking a rainbow, and it is awesome

Rumors abound that funding for the arts in our great-again country will be summarily cut, and soon. This may or may not come to pass (it has certainly be threatened before, but reality has also never felt so incomprehensible before), but if it does, the arts may never recover.  It takes so little work to remove something from collective expectations and so much to completely recreate that element of our society, along with the assumption that it deserves to exist.  So if you care at all about music, visual art, dance, writing, theater, and the intersection of any of the above, or if you just appreciate that these things feed other people's souls, and in many cases their families, might I suggest "voting with your feet" and consuming some good old fashioned American culture on your next trip to...anywhere? Don't worry if you haven't attended a play, visited a museum, or seen a band concert since you were a kid; there's more to love now in grown-up world with no follow-up homework assignments, and I'm already proud of you for trying something new. Here are some simple directories to get you started:

Catch a symphony concert in an amazing number of cities and medium-sized towns throughout the US!

come on, doesn't this shit look fun?

Get to know a new town through their artists by visiting an art gallery (psst...you can start your inspiring personal collection on your visit, too!). And good old Wikipedia's got your covered if you're looking for a museum of contemporary art.

You are going to flip out when you see how many professional dance companies exist in America! Like, even in Wheatland, Wyoming!?

Movies are cool and all, but when was the last time you went to a real, live play? Don't think you're into that sort of thing?  Just give it a try in any one of these 40 cities and see how wrong you are.

Directories for arts organizations are not all comprehensive (something we really should be better about), but I encourage you to search for live entertainment and opportunities to view art in every town you visit. And while you're spending all those $20 bills here and there on sassy "protest" shirts to benefit your favorite groups, you can also consider giving (or volunteering, or donating) to some of these hard-working groups struggling to keep the arts and arts education alive in the most positive ways:

Americans for the Arts supports research and programs connecting the arts (art, dance, theater, literature, music, and more) to educational programs designed to help students learn, grow, and develop a positive sense of self. The National Art Education Organization is focused on visual art.

The League of American Orchestras. If this sounds like a group of superheroes, they practically are.  Not only do they fight for what's right to get (and keep) musicians paid, but they sponsor programs to encourage women composers, young conductors, and experimental composers whose works don't fit the Hollywood soundtrack profile.

LitLine has created a list of organizations dedicated to keeping the independent literary community alive.

this is what a poetry reading looks like

Do you appreciate a certain dance company, theater troupe, community music school, etc. in your area? Don't be shy about calling them and asking how you can help them continue to function. Private support may be the only way we stay alive in the coming years.

It's going to be a long 2-4 years of defending what you love in this country, so why not get some good travel out of it?

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