Monday, October 23, 2006

Food For The Soul
I read a letter to the editor in the Orlando Sentinel, from a reader in Apopka, who bemoaned the prospect of money being spent to build a new performing arts center. Her cry was "What good will it do me?"

If she were to ask me, I'd say, "Lady, get off the couch, turn off the boob tube and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities we have to enrich and broaden our horizons.
Go out and experience the joy, the excitement and the fun often coupled with thought provoking moments that add depth, dimension and meaning to our lives.
Then just think how much greater that will be when we have better facilities to accommodate more groups, more performances and are able to offer more young people exposure to drama, dance and music. An opportunity to reach into their hearts and souls, to buoy them up, to let their spirits soar, piquing their imagination, adding another dimension to their learning experience.

We All Benefit.
Think how much better our society will be if young people are engaged in positive uplifting activities. Having a multi-use Performing Arts Center will provide an opportunity and a place for many of our young people to take part in music programs, dance lessons, acting classes, and many will develop skills, gain confidence, and build character as they work behind the scenes.
Or simply being a part of the dynamic of a live audience, feeling the spark of engagement between actor and patron, artist and guest. This is a magic moment that's found no place else.

At A Price We Can Afford
The letter writer went on to say, the average middle class family couldn't afford season subscriptions to the Performing Arts. I have nowhere near the income she cited, yet I've been a subscriber and supporter of many of our performing arts groups for years and have bought innumerable individual tickets to many more performances. With the new center, I look forward to many more exciting entertainment options.

On a recent Saturday morning, I was part of the audience who enjoyed a fabulous hour of enlightenment and entertainment with the world famous Brentano String Quartet, part of the Fred Rogers Concert Series designed for families on Saturday mornings, featuring the visiting artists from the Bach Festival. Ticket prices for adults and children for this series are quite affordable.
The quartet is technically talented but it was their verbal interaction with the group that showcased the first class act they really are. The audience included senior citizens, many of us on a tight budget or who no longer are comfortable attending evening events, families with children, from quite young up to teens, some co-eds, and the current group of Outward Bound students - we all ate it up! The dialogue, the questions and answers and the amazing performance held us spellbound. How wonderful to be exposed to and enjoy this level of world class entertainment for the few dollars that amounted to little more than a visit to a fast food place. A new Performing Arts Center would provide many more such opportunities.

Based on my previous sales experience, I'm well aware that the bottom line in any sales transaction, isn't price. It's successfully answering the very question the writer posed, "What will it do for me?"

We, who so staunchly advocate support of the arts in greater Orlando, must stand up to the reality that exclusiveness will not win the day. We need to introduce, educate and encourage participation by all members of the community, lest we live up to an elitist label. Reach out to a friend, relative or neighbor. Invite someone to join you at a concert, play, ballet or opera. Let's broaden some horizons and enrich some lives. Let's swell the audiences of our current venues while developing a new audience and the next generation of theater- goers to fill that new Performing Arts Center. Let's answer that bottom line question: What will it do for me?

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