Thursday, January 22, 2009

The cost of culture

There comes a time when a person just wants to take his/her significant other out for a night on the town and soak up some culture. I'm sure there are many of you out there that know what I'm talking about. Down in these here parts, those opportunities aren't as abundant as in, say, New York, especially on a teacher's salary (Louisiana is one of the worst states to teach in in terms of money).

Still, I wanted to take the little woman to see the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra next week when they perform with jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. It's a chance for us to get all gussied up and have a night on the town. Something we haven't done since...well, come to think of it, I don't think we've ever done this.

The cost of 2 tickets is $82! Those are the cheap seats! Needless to say, I wasn't expecting the price to be so high, but I did get the tickets.

Last time I went to an orchestra concert was in college. Obviously, those were free (especially the ones I played in...hehehe). As far as I remember, the only orchestra concert I payed for was in high school, and that was like a $5 charge for those with a high GPA who got to go. If I'm recalling right, that was for the bus driver and gas and whatnot.

So, this all brings me to this notion. In this country, let's face it, we're not as cultured as we pretend to be. I'm a musician. Most of my college life was spent listening so everything from Gregorian Chant to jazz, recitative to rap, etc. So, you ask me a music question and I'll know the answer, but ask me something about art, dance, or theater (not counting musicals) and chances are I'll be stumped. Many of you maybe the same or similar.

I was thinking, why is it that we aren't as cultured as many European countries? Talking to my fellow arts teachers we came to thus conclusion. There are two reason that stick out and cause this abomination. The first is that it costs an arm and a leg to obtain culture most of the time, and Americans just aren't willing to do that these days compared to before the advent of popular music when orchestras were the thing to see. Television is also to blame.

The second reason is that the arts are usually the first to go when schools need to cut programs because of the budget or when a school doesn't make a passing grade because of low test scores(yet sports don't get touched).

I could go on and on about how the arts make kids smarter and that we need to make obtaining culture more, um...obtainable, but that would be a whole blog by itself. I just had these thoughts as I bought these tickets today and just had to get them written down. In case you were wondering, the most expensive tickets would have been $375 for 2. Wonder if there is any kind of educator discount. Hmm...


Paula Williams said...

We saw Chris Botti (who is great!) at our local Deer Valley Jazz Festival last August. I believe my son purchased the tickets through the University (where he is a student)for about $15.

Don't teachers and students get discounts to most "cultural" events? I often take a continuing education class as much for the benefits of the student ID (cheap symphony & opera tickets) as for the class itself.

Val said...

You're not kidding about the cost of culture. I paid around $50 to see *one* movie at the Chicago Film festival. Granted I got to see Viggo Mortensen and Jason Isaacs in person, but still. If my husband had gone with me, it'd be $100 and that doesn't count parking, food, tolls, etc.

When we went to Vegas we saw a few shows and you just couldn't look at the prices...the cheapest tickets were for Lewis Black at $82; all the plays were $125+ per ticket. And somehow the performers supposedly make peanuts. It does make it difficult for anyone middle class and under to be truly immersed in culture.