Arts & Entertainment, etc. and Dance Kaleidoscope and Arts Funding and Concerts and Indianapolis Opera and Opinion and Indianapolis Museum of Art and Viewpoint

A love letter (and plea) about supporting local arts

March 23, 2009

 

Dear Indianapolis,

I love arts leaders John Pickett, Simon Crookall, Glen Kwok, Steven Stolen, Bob Sorbera, David Hochoy and Max Anderson. And I'm not alone. We are ardent admirers who could not live here without the beauty and inspiration they work hard every day to create.

And heaven knows, we all need that right now.

After a day of feeling downtrodden by more news of friends losing their jobs and of having a business opportunity evaporate in front of my eyes, I was headed home to crawl underneath the covers to find some solace from the cold world.

But then I got a call from a friend who suggested I attend that evening's violin concert at the Indiana History Center. There is something about the sound of a bow tugging on strings that tugs at my heart, too, and warms it. Yes, I was craving some warmth and maybe something that would fill my spirit.

The violinist, David Chan, a former International Violin Competition winner and now concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, was accompanied by Jeewon Park, an accomplished pianist. It was a program with variety, mostly short pieces that allowed me to close my eyes and breathe in the music before the pace changed and delighted me with something unexpected.

The encore piece was Jules Massenet's "Meditation." It is sublime. I thought I should watch the performers playing it, but at times, I wanted only the sound, to absorb its singular power. I felt my breathing slow. I felt tearful and grateful for the sheer beauty of it all.

I went home feeling whole again that night, knowing that I had indeed filled myself up with something genuine, something that fed my soul.

I could say the same thing about the opera, especially Italian opera, because the drama is over the top and there is no place your emotions can hide and why would you want them to? Opera has everything. It is all the arts on one stage. And I love it best of all.

Now comes the heartache (a part of any real love letter): The seats aren't filled to capacity. Where is everybody? Where's the love? Why is it we can sell out a stadium, but not a symphony hall? Please don't tell me the economy is solely to blame.

I paid $22 for a seat to the violin competition this year. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra recently had seats for sale for $25, as did the Indianapolis Opera. World-class performances at bargain basement, recession-proof prices.

I know we are a "sports" city, that having a professional football team and the imminent Super Bowl is a coup for Indianapolis, that amateur sports has put us on the map, that we have the Indy 500 that captures the attention of the whole world in May.

Fabulous, all of that, but this doesn't happen to be a love letter about sports.

Now the pleading begins. When was the last time you took your child or teen-ager to hear classical music, or see a contemporary dance performance a la Dance Kaleidoscope? When was the last time you went to see a play? Not "The Lion King," not Broadway productions, but to something thought-provoking and rich like "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the Indiana Repertory Theatre or "Enchanted April" at Indianapolis Civic Theatre?

When was the last time you went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to expose your children to different art cultures and history? It's free, you know! Free. Turn off the television, leave the mall, peel yourself away from the Internet, and see something real.

If you have a choice between the latest big-budget movie or the theater or symphony, please support what lasts. Please support the arts.

And please don't make me beg.

Carol Faenzi

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Faenzi is an author, public speaker and vice president of business development for Rowland Design. She may be contacted at cfaenzi@rowlanddesign.com.

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