Shop local for your artistic experiences

Unfortunately, we live in a society where science and technology prevail and art and expression are seen as being lesser, impractical ideas or even worse, unproductive.  I think most students agree that when they choose to pursue a fine or liberal arts degree, their parents and loved ones cringed at the thought. It’s understandable; parents care and just want us to be successful (by which I mean financially stable). This usually requires pursuing a career in which jobs are readily available and it’s because of this that I’ve seen far too many people enter a field in which they’re not happy or were forced into. Currently, it seems that unless you’re entering the health field or wish to work IT, you’ll be struggling no matter what you get into, especially if your life’s pursuit is art. Practicality outweighs passion and it’s not financially responsible to be an artist in today’s society.

I don’t agree with this at all. I think the very souls of our being require expression and artistic experiences and that’s why we’re always looking for outlets as such. Think back to any projects you’ve done through elementary school until now. For the most part I’m sure you wanted it to look nice, cutting construction paper to back your neatly typed information, creating an array of colours on a boring, white three-fold board that was totally worth an ‘A’ based on appearance alone. That’s art. We need it.

If you check on the St. Catharines website or look at events happening in the Niagara Region, it’s everywhere. The arts scene in Niagara flourishes because of how supportive communities and fellow artists are. The region is small enough that it’s not difficult to get to another city and because St. Catharines seems to be the art hub of the area, there’s always something happening right under your nose.

If you go to a City and Colour concert in a forest and no one was there to Instagram it, was it really necessary to pay $70 dollars to go? Not to knock the very talented Dallas Green, but this seems to be the way we classify our social outings; “how does this elevate my status?”

I believe it’s the responsibility of citizens to support local artists and events. We’re told all the time to think globally and act locally. It’s no different than buying food at the local market or supporting local downtown shops. One small purchase can make all the difference to a local farmer or shop owner. It helps the individuals but also maintains the wealth within the local area and sustains the economic growth in the community. It’s something that people generally feel good about. Maybe the purchase was a little more expensive than shopping at Food Basics or buying something at (shudder) Walmart, but you know you did a good thing and you know you’ve purchased something of quality.

The same can be said when it comes to supporting local artists.

Whether it’s an art show, a concert downtown at one of the many bars, a film festival or an Improv show at Brock, attending these events creates revenue for the community, an awareness to the artistic scene in Niagara and a larger sense of unity and support.

There’s nothing wrong with going to concerts featuring popular bands that tour all over the world, or going to see a Hollywood film in theatres (trust me, the anticipation for The Hobbit: There and Back Again is practically torture) but it’s about balancing these outings with something that is a little more relevant to the community in which you live. If the only reason you go see a concert is because you kind of like the band but everyone knows about them (the perfect opportunity to say “yeah, well I saw them live”), then you’re missing out on so many quality artists and bands that exist here, that live in your community, that go to Brock.

We’re fortunate enough to have Rodman Hall downtown, which is a part of Brock University, but how many students have been there? Or even know about it for that matter? They always have amazing exhibitions that are worth seeing. Call me crazy, but it is okay to go and see an art show or explore an exhibit on your own. In fact, I encourage it. It’s so rewarding to look at art at your own pace in a quiet environment.

You don’t have to be involved in the arts to necessarily want to expose yourself to new cultural experiences.  We can blame the ignorance on there not being enough advertisements for events, but I think the problem stems mostly from an apathetic reluctance to pay attention and truly involve ourselves in our own community.

Just because you’ve never heard of a band or seen the preview for a film on major television stations, does that make it of lesser quality? Where would these big names be if it weren’t for the support of their loves ones and their constant hard work and dedication? It’s great to really love a band and want to support them, and I’m not saying to never go to larger scale events. I’m merely suggesting that it is rewarding to expose yourself to new artistic experiences you may have never otherwise thought of.

Pay attention. There are so many things going on all the time. You won’t be able to catch everything, but if you look you will find something that’s worth it.

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