Our culture and society has been under attack now for over a year. One of the basic aspects of what makes us Americans, what makes us human, what connects us to each other has been taken away. It has been assaulted by a virus, and eroded by the needed response to it. Our shared communal experiences of singing and dancing together at a concert; seeing a story magically set to song before our eyes at a Broadway show; being moved by the simultaneous vulnerability and strength of the human form at a dance performance—they’ve been taken away. Do you remember laughing so hard at a comedian that your belly hurt?
Live performing arts and entertainment is what helps us make sense of the world. It allows us to come together and create an experience, artist and audience as one, memories that often last a lifetime. If I asked you about your first concert, you’d remember who and where it was. You know exactly what it felt like to enter a Broadway theater for the first time. For even a casual audience member, the past year has felt like an eternity.
Through this worldwide crisis I’ve often thought about how much better we’d be able to cope if we could just come together and enjoy a show for a few hours. Throughout its history, our nation has had profound moments of healing during communal events after being attacked in war, beaten by natural disasters, and enduring unimaginable circumstances. Remember the legendary benefit concert at Madison Square Garden or Mike Piazza’s dramatic home run at Shea Stadium after the attacks of September 11?
It’s almost time.
It’s almost time for us to be together again. Very soon we will again be creating those once-in-a-lifetime experiences at a beautiful theater or concert venue. We will start to emerge from what has been described as a “cultural depression.” There are 5.1 million of us who work in arts and culture. So many in our industry have been unemployed or had to seek new jobs. The economic impact of the arts is immeasurable, really, but good estimates put it at nearly $150 billion. That’s not the point, though.
We need this. We need to come together, and we need to rebound strong and fast. I say this not from an economic point of view, but rather as a culture — as a human race, we need this. We need to heal, we need to laugh, we need to sing, dance, and embrace. We need to cry a little more, too…but we need to do it together.
Those of us who produce and present these live events are ready. We’re working hard to book shows, get venues renovated and retrofitted. We’re ready to connect artists and audiences again, safely, and some of the best times of our lives are yet to come.
I urge you, please do all you can to support arts organizations. Make a donation if you can, buy a ticket to a show when they go on sale, take a chance on seeing something new, and don’t miss seeing that legendary artist one more time.
We can do this…and we’ll do it together. We all need to help each other and be kind. Understand that it might be a bit uncomfortable at first and things will be a little different. We’re getting ready for that special day to come soon, and we look forward to welcoming you again to beautiful venues. Most important, we look forward to being together in the same space, repairing the world and making it better.
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