There is a subtle difference between something you buy and something you support. In both cases, you are paying money for a product or service. It partly comes down to a matter of ownership. If you buy a car, you own the car. If you pay for a service, you have the right to use and benefit from that service throughout the specified term. There are those products that are a mixture of the two such as a digital download. Do you own it? Sort of. The bits that make up that download belong to you. But you can only use it in limited ways that don’t run afoul of the RIAA.
A digital download is also one of the ways you can support the arts. You don’t own Rigoletto just because you purchased a digital copy. Verdi would not appreciate it. What about when you go see it at an opera house? You are paying to see it one time. It will likely never be televised. You cannot demand to see it again even if you had to leave early. You did not buy the opera; you supported it. And that support is much appreciated and necessary.
The arts make an impact on society
. But they do not support themselves. Public money is required. It has always been so. Despite the ticket sales and television rights, there would be no arts as we know it without that support. Here is how you can add yours even if you don’t have tons of money:
Start a Trust
You might not have a lot of money right now. But you could save some here and there and grant it to an arts foundation of your choice. If you are worried that any part of your estate might be open to probate or tax liability, you can protect the money in the form of a trust.
A revocable trust is still subject to taxes because it remains under your control while you are alive. To more fully protect your assets assigned to someone else, you need an irrevocable trust
. The assets in that kind of trust are managed by a trustee. You are no longer a controlling party for those assets outside of the fact that you legally earmarked them for a particular purpose. You can make any type of trust or any number of trusts you want. They are not the same as a will and are a superior vehicle for protecting your assets. Don’t leave money to the arts in a form that can be redirected because of personal liability. A trust is the way to go for this type of donation.
Go to a Show
Become a patron of the arts by going to a show. The arts have to find new audiences
to survive. It helps if you donate money to the arts. But it is not the same as becoming a part of the virtuous cycle of the arts.
Go to a museum and take a guided tour of exhibits that might not be your cup of tea. Learn to appreciate why such art is made and what it is trying to say. Take in an opera even if you think you don’t like operas. Give yourself a chance to fall in love with something new. Once you understand the benefits of experiencing the arts, you will become an avid supporter of the arts.
Expose Your Children to the Arts When Their Young
The moment your child is chosen for a part in the school play, buy tickets and take them to a real play. Watch their eyes pop with wonder at the costumes and voices and music and sets and lights and acting. Patric Stewart did not become everyone’s favorite Captain of the Enterprise by accident. He learned his craft on stage. When they take an interest in drawing, painting, or sculpting, follow it up with trips to art galleries where they can see the work of modern masters in person. Tomorrow’s art is not only supported by money, but by people becoming artists.
You don’t have to have a lot of money to start a trust, go to a symphony, or take your kids to a play. Just know that when you do those things, you are planting the seeds for art to thrive for the next generation, and for generations to come.