Help keep the arts alive in San Diego

San Diego's major cultural institutions give us reason to listen to the people who spoke out last week about the importance of giving voice not just to the institutions but also to the journalists who help us understand their place in our world.

As newspapers change, tightening their belts and turning toward the Internet, we believe there is still a place for arts coverage in newspapers like ours as well as larger ones and on various websites springing up around us. But the bigger issue is that we must all support, not just the critics and those who report on the arts, but the arts themselves.

As budgets tighten, and cities have fewer dollars for subsidies, we have seen our museums, theaters, opera, symphony and other groups cutting back. We have seen corporations that have been significant backers of the arts trim their support as they deal with the realities of the new economy, and we have seen school foundations come to the rescue of arts education as school trustees trim their spending plans.

The idea of creating a coalition to keep the voice of art criticism alive put forward during a meeting last week at Warwick's Books in La Jolla — that started out as a discussion about why the San Diego Union-Tribune laid off its longtime arts and book critic — is worth exploring. So too is the idea of making it a larger effort aimed at finding new ways to support the arts at large.

As Angela Carone of KPBS put it, the energy that was in the room on Friday is a good start. But if it dies on the vine because only a few people take up the call, it will not be a good sign for the arts in San Diego or for businesses like art galleries, independent book stores and music stores.

Don't just show up and talk. Introduce your children to the arts, encourage their critical voices and support the schools in their efforts to keep arts in the classroom.

Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and La Jolla, the La Jolla Playhouse and North Coast Repertory Theatre, buy tickets to the La Jolla Music Society's SummerFest or the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus productions. Take advantage of the wealth of events at UCSD and MiraCosta College.

Contribute what you can.

Arts and culture, as Friday's forum moderator Richard Farson put it, should not be marginalized or peripheral to our lives. They should be at the forefront.

   
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