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Tag Archives: philanthropy

On The Second Day Of Shopping…

Today is Small Business Saturday. Yesterday was Black Friday and in a couple of days it will be Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. Yes, it’s a lot to keep track of, but we’re an odd/even day gas, opposite side of the street parking kind of people. If we were to create a timeline of seasonal consumer events; Black Friday would be on the far left and Giving Tuesday on the far right. Cyber Monday is more towards the left but is only as old as clicking technology. What is wonderfully fascinating/encouraging is that right side of the timeline and the recent creation of Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday.

Shopping local independent shops and artisans is always a great way to support communities and their individual residents. Local independent shops stock unique, lovely things that are often locally made. Many communities hold arts and/or craft holiday fairs and local restaurants and pubs are always happy for the foot traffic. Today (and for the next five weeks) we can shop meaningfully and give creatively. Giving (and receiving!) a framed watercolor, a glass pendant, a crochet miniature giraffe is more memorable than the exchange of a chain store gift card. If gift cards must be exchanged, consider a certificate to a restaurant or shop in the recipient’s neighborhood.

In the tri-state area, Small Business Saturday comes at the perfect time. Yes, there are businesses still struggling to open, but there are plenty that are up and running. Find a community (perhaps your own) that suffered in the storm and shop a little (or a lot.) (And while you’re there think about local restaurants for on-site holiday parties or catering.) Consider gift certificates to theatre companies and performing arts organizations forced to close for days or weeks. Is there someone who’s been particularly nice this year? Perhaps a season subscription to a downtown theatre is in order.

On Monday office productivity will plummet as workers click their way down their gift list. This Tuesday will be the day to take a closer look at that gift list and consider a charitable gift. You needn’t worry about sizes, makes or models, colors or cuts. Not for profit organizations large and small, international, national or local will be a grateful recipient. This is the best holiday grab bag opportunity ever created. You choose what to give to whom. The gift feels meaningful to you and the recipient and you needn’t pretend to love the bath beads or Santa coffee mug you receive in exchange. You can broaden the reach of your gift by giving in someone’s name. Is there someone on your gift list who loves animals? A gift to the The New York Aquarium will help to repair the damage of the storm and delight the ‘benefactor.’

We like to think of leisurely slow roasted family dinners, skating parties at twilight or evenings by the fire with a glass of port and a musty smelling Dickens this time of year. But the reality is that it’s mostly several weeks of frenzied shortening days. Our social lives ramp up (or sputter back to life), our workloads increase in preparation of days off and our to-do lists prod us awake at 3:00 AM. There isn’t much resting or merry gentlemen/women to be found this time of year. However an interesting thing happens to our innards when we feel we’ve done some good. There is an underlying tranquility beneath our frenzy. Things might not go as planned, crowds might wear us down but we’ve coated our soul with a thin layer of “I made a difference.”

Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday make it effortless for us to do some good for ourselves and for others. We needn’t limit ourselves to these two days but they are a great start to a wonderful habit!

 

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2012 in Holiday, Well-Being

 

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Words and Music

The Yale School of Drama has just announced an $18 million gift.  A gift that substantial (to an arts program!) is newsworthy enough, but this gift is not for a building or other monument to immortality.  The gift is for the creation of new plays and musicals.  Musicals.

Knowing nothing of the details of the gift or of the business dealings that led to such largess (the gift was bequeathed by the late alumnus James Binger) I can only shout “Hurrah!”  Lots of universities, philanthropists and celebrities love to talk about supporting the arts.  (And why not? Who in the world would argue with that sentiment?  It’s right up there with; “children are our future.”)

Financing the development of new works in a university theoretically fosters a purely artistic basis that may not exist in a theatre company.  Even not-for-profit theatre companies have to sell tickets.  The theatre laboratory in a university setting is not entirely novel.  But when is the last time you heard of an Ivy League university investing in musical theatre?  I have nothing but respect for musical theatre.  I am a 100% Sit Down You’re Rockin The Boat, Nothing’s Gonna Harm You, 7 1/2 Cents, If You Could See Me Now, kinda gal.  But in some circles musical theatre is often a punch line.  It’s seen as the goofy cut-up sitting at the grown-up’s table.  Yet, creating an excellent musical is exceedingly difficult and involves collaborations that can only be categorized as alchemic.

During the past decade some truly magical new musical works have made their way to the New York stage.  Spring Awakening and Passing Strange reinvented the concept of book and score to great results.  The Light in the Piazza was a fresh, delicate and beautiful new work in the most traditional of formats.  It is these musicals we must remember when we think of all the movie-to-musical or comic book-to-musical shows dotting the great white way.  (Note: The Light in the Piazza was technically a movie-to-musical but the movie was 50 years old and the musical so self-contained and lovely that aside from the royalty issue, its origins were immaterial.)

Creating a great musical takes a great book, great lyrics, a great score and great choreography.  Collaborations must be created and fostered.  It has been at least a generation since we’ve had a notable musical team.  We still swoon over photos of the creators of West Side Story at work, for that very reason.  Universities (the places that bring us friends for life by virtue of the randomness of roommate assignments or drunken evenings) are the very place to foster these relationships.

Recently we’ve been hearing less than glowing tales of how higher education is serving students.  We know that funds to the arts have been decreasing for some time and we need only take a walk through Times Square to see where innovation in musical theatre stands.  This ($18 million) gift Yale, may in fact be a gift to theatre lovers everywhere.

*Photo: (left to right) Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince and Robert Griffith (seated), Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Education, Theatre

 

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