Dear Readers,

It’s crunch time. Financial instability is beginning to force concert presenters and orchestras to cancel previously solid shows and tours and renegotiate contracts. Smaller organizations are in danger of folding. Friends of mine in arts fields more shaky than classical music have already seen gigs dry up, and others are drawing up backup plans just in case. Everyone is scrambling to preserve what already exists without endangering artists’ livelihoods into the future. However, a lot of groups across the board are going to face difficulties in the coming months.

I’m not trying to sound alarm bells. I know that times are tough, and these things are bound to occur. But I have a suggestion. It’s not much, but why doesn’t everyone who values the arts contribute five dollars to a local arts organization of his or her choice as a holiday gift to the community? Kids, if you can spare even a dollar of your allowance, and grownups, if you can skip a couple of days of coffee, it would make a difference. You don’t have to give to an orchestra or a recital series if something else intrigues you more; public radio, small dance companies, museums, art schools, independent movie theaters, acting troupes, conservatories, and free weekly papers are a few other options. Just be sure that you choose well, put every dollar towards something you feel good about, and check that the organization you pick will apply your donation wisely.

I’ll donate, in my hometown – not because I work in the arts, but because I love the arts. Will you join me by doing the same, in your hometown?

Why is this important? I, for one, don’t wish to go home and find out that my favorite theater company has had to shut its doors, or that a museum couldn’t afford to bring in an exhibit I’d been looking forward to, or that the movie theater I like to sit in all afternoon on a day off, watching foreign movie after indie flick, has been forced to go mainstream to attract large enough audiences to stay open. The arts are a refuge. Who wouldn’t want a good laugh, a little cry, or a deep ponder on a tough day? Given that many tough days lie ahead, I’m guessing that we’ll soon need the arts more than ever – and it’s our job to make sure that they’ll be able to give us the support that we seek.