Who is Art For?

Over the weekend Angie and I had tickets to see Hamilton in Chicago, it was every bit as amazing as I wanted it to be. In fact, the only issue I might have was the tiny fortune I had to pay in order to get in.

Likewise, earlier last week I tried to get Gorillaz tickets for their show in Chicago and it was sold out, in under 40 seconds - that isn't done by human hands, it is by automation or bots selling to other bots to increase the ticket cost and sell it back to you. So, a show that is probably worth $40 a ticket is now $173 per seat. Rinse and repeat. 

My father told me a story over the weekend about his friend who wanted to go to see Hamilton and Book of Mormon when both shows come to Seattle later this year. For two tickets to each show, his total cost was a mind-boggling $5200.

Which got me thinking who is art for? 

It certainly isn't directed at people below a certain income threshold, I mean even movies can be priced out of access which is why Octavia Spencer purchased an entire theater out so that low-income families could see Hidden Figures.

At Now Playing, we believe that at-risk children need art as much, if not more than, children who have instant access to it. But, the economics of art put it well off the list of anything that low-income families, broken or otherwise, can afford to attend. 

Now Hamilton does do a lottery for each show and that helps - although the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots, according to the Pew Research Center, has gotten better, the gap is far from closed.

Which is why Now Playing is here.

With your help, Now Playing is able to give these kids the opportunity to see plays, performances, movies, community or sporting events that they would literally have no chance to see if it were not for you. 

That is the thing about economics, it is really hard to solve for because once you have paid for the mortgage, the lights, the water, the gas, and food and you have very little left - you just aren't paying $300 a ticket to see Hamilton even if it might change your life. 

I have lived a fortunate life that I am thankful for beyond belief which is just one more reason I get up every day and try to make a bigger impact for people who have not had the opportunities that I had. I do that by opening the door - even if it is just to a movie theater, to show them where dreams are realized, where daydreaming takes hold, and where storytelling happens. 

We all deserve the right to tell a better story and isn't that what art is for? 

Eric HultgrenComment