You may have heard about the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra’s mid-season decision to suspend its operations. The news from the north reminds me of a similar announcement in Binghamton about this time last year by Southern Tier Celebrates! I remember how strange it felt this past New Year Eve’s when STC!’s First Night Binghamton just wasn’t there anymore. Many folks in Syracuse are likely to feel the same way when the next concert date rolls around, and the SSO isn’t there, either.
Recently, a local professional told me that he thought the arts “were just there” when he was growing up in Binghamton. He says he went to the occasional concert and such, but until he retired and joined the board of a non-profit arts organization, he took it for granted that the arts would be there whenever he wanted them. He knows better now. He’s learning that, without intentional patronage, participation and support by people in the community, the arts won’t be there for him — or for any of us. Arts providers, meanwhile, are learning that, without responsible leadership, sound resource management and strategic partnerships, THEY won’t be around to sustain their chosen art forms.
None of us – from board member to performer, writer to reader, teacher to parent, painter to dancer, patron to staffer — can afford to take the arts for granted anymore and, perhaps, never again. A line from the film All That Jazz, comes to mind: “It’s show time, folks!” What part will you play?