As donors, as philanthropists, as people who give because you care...well, it takes a certain kind.
It's been interesting as recent economic issues have affected whole nations in different ways. While in the U.S., it led to a drop in individual giving, the recession heard round the world actually made other countries look into a model that was (no pun intended) completely foreign to them.
Obviously skewed from recent experiences in academia, in theory as well as with facts to back it up, Americans give like none other, whatever they give to. And as a nation we (try to) incentivize that giving through various nonprofit structures and special interaction with tax law.
But I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy, and for most, the incentive to give...well, the monetary benefit is secondary.
Growing up, and going to church with ang inay ko (my mother), she would always let me put the money in the donation basket. Well it took me a while, but I think I got it, got the point of it, and why it felt good to give, particularly over the last year as I've started on my own philanthropic path, with NPR and local theatres, like Woolly Mammoth, among the mix of organizations whose public good I believed in.
And that's, where I think we forgot about the arts at times, both as theatre professionals, and as patrons. For the most part (I'm not there yet, but give me another year), if a theatre company is a 501(c)3, then it's been approved as nonprofit because of its mission (as well as other structural), and it is recognized as fulfilling some service to the community.
I say all this because art is probably one of the more ephemeral, but also one of the most rewarding things I believe one can support. When it comes to basic needs, it can seem to falter in terms of importance, with good reason. But after you've dealt with the bare necessities of life, then that's where support for the arts is crucial, because then you're addressing the quality of life for people in a communi
But it's not like you have to give to one or the other, and the necessity of some causes doesn't negate the rewards of others.
That being said, I want to invite you to share a couple of thoughts.
The first being some of the other things you give to, be it a religious organization, a theatre company, maybe a political action committee.
The second thing is, if you have a moment, share why you gave to this project, whether you support art in general, because you want to support people involved, maybe you support addressing the topic of the piece, or maybe there's a whole other reason.
And please share this with others who might still be thinking about supporting this. Ask them what they give to, and inform them why you gave to this.
I look forward to seeing your responses,
- JR Russ, Vision Director, A Way of Life Productions