You know the phrase. “If you build it, he will come.” And if it worked in Field of Dreams, it will work IRL. Except too often people love to complain about the lack of options, programming, opportunities in the arts, and they don’t support the ones currently in existence. That needs to end.
I’m an adult dancer in every possible way. I started dance at 31 with a very beginner tap class. As I’ve progressed in my skill level, I’ve bemoaned the lack of challenging adult options. So I’ve bounced around to different studios because I recognized that instead of complaining and not taking dance, I had the power to do something. That power is to give my money and time only to a dance studio that supports adult dancers with challenging and performance opportunities.
So now, I’m 37 still happily tapping and recently enrolled in a new offering at my dance studio, Musical Theater/Jazz. While the arrival of Baby Girl (9 weeks to go- dear LORD) will likely curtail my performing, for now, I’m still out there dancing and supporting the arts. I attend my friend’s theatrical endeavors, I promote their shows, and I plug my dance studio whenever I have the chance. I don’t complain that there are no opportunities for adult dancers anymore because they are there. And I support as best I can the new ones that crop up each year.
You’re probably thinking, “I’m only one person. Who cares if I don’t, see the show/take a class/share that FB event?” That’s precisely the attitude most take and that’s why so many beautiful programs fold after a year. If they last a year.
It takes tremendous amounts of time, energy and capital to start anything, especially something in the arts. Many people beginning that dance company, directing the local musical, or soliciting artists for a local exhibit all have other full-time day jobs. Not to mention wanting to maintain relationships with family and friends. These massive undertakings are being done largely by volunteers on their second or third shift of the day. Bugs happen, issues arise they may not have known to account for or how to fix. As an audience member, as an arts supporter rather than attend and lambast things in a negative review or skip the show entirely, why not offer constructive criticism instead? If you see a problem and you have the skills to help, offer those skills. If you can’t afford the full price of the ticket, barter and offer to usher, or sell concessions. I’ve seen many a show from the back row of the theater while ushering and it’s every bit as good.
Don’t presume watching the recording (if there’s one available) after the fact is the same as viewing the live show. Yes, you’re supporting your friend(s) in the show, the theater group but it’s not the same. The whole thing about live theater, live music, live dance is the “live” part- that element of je ne sais quoi, that anything can and will happen. You’re missing the electricity in the air as the lights go down and the curtain goes up, as the orchestra strikes up the first few notes of the overture or the producer makes their pre-curtain speech. Plus watching the DVD after the fact likely means, you didn’t pay to play, and in the world of community arts, every penny counts. Without your support that fabulous show you just saw may not happen next year.
So instead of complaining do something. Share something. Encourage someone. Donate your time or treasure (or both!) Remember what Everett Edward Hale said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”