Margaret Hair: Keep arts in mind as economy turns |

Margaret Hair: Keep arts in mind as economy turns

Margaret Hair

I’m sure it wouldn’t be a challenge to find someone to tell you that arts and entertainment are the last things to worry about in a time of economic turmoil.

And in some ways, that person would be right – making sure you still have a job, making sure that job still provides a steady paycheck and making sure all of your money is still your money are reasonable, pressing concerns.

At some point, maybe when the answers to those questions become undeniably unfavorable, a reality emerges: money is hard to come by, and that is no reason to be depressed. There are ways around this feeling of despair.

Now, I’m not saying that going out and buying a bunch of new CDs is a way around your broke-induced sadness. Logic suggests that would be the opposite of the right answer.

What I am saying is that times like these are ideal for appreciating the arts, and for discovering things you might not have known about. If you live in Steamboat Springs and have not been to a First Friday ArtWalk, go tonight; all the gallery exhibits and openings have free admission. If you have Internet access, try taking your mind off money with some catchy new music on the MySpace sites for TV on the Radio, Ben Folds or any number of other acts.

It’s easy to push those kinds of activities to the back burner on the tails of a historic drop in the Dow Jones industrial average and in the midst of an increasingly mystifying presidential campaign season. And as money gets tighter, funding for the arts likely will be one of the first cuts made.

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I understand that basic public services have to be funded before arts organizations. But it’s crucial to remember the benefit we get from things that might seem frivolous in times of despair, and to find ways to keep them going.

Music, visual art, dance, theater and film can be seriously therapeutic – some of the best music ever recorded has been made by people who are in economic turmoil 100 percent of the time. You need to preserve sanity to rebound from crisis, financial or otherwise, and I don’t know how that would be possible without some form of expression.