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Lifestyles

January 25, 2010

Around the Arts: Area arts organizations can help stimulate our economy

By Brittany Lesavoy

Over the past few years, the terms "bail-out," "stimulus package" and "economic downturn" have become part of our everyday vocabulary. We hear of major corporations suffering from economic hardships and we hear of layoffs on a national level every day. But more and more, particularly in our area, we discover the woes of small businesses and area arts organizations.

It is surprising and sad to hear of how many arts organizations have recently instituted salary cuts and job eliminations, to hear of how many jobs these organizations have supported _ not only for artists, but administrators as well. The New York City Ballet let 11 dancers go last year, and Miami City Ballet laid off seven dancers. Last March, The New York Times reported The Metropolitan Museum of Art eliminated 74 jobs and anticipated more cuts. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum eliminated 25 positions last June, and Washington National Opera recently instituted several job eliminations throughout its administration and reduced its offerings. In fact, many institutions have scaled back their product for the coming seasons. These are the hardships we hear of on a national level in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Around here, we read it in The Daily Star, and we hear it through the grapevine: The arts are suffering.

The same that goes for big business goes for the arts _ shoppers just aren't turning out. When we think of stimulating the economy, most of us don't think of spending our money on the arts _ at all. How would that stimulate the economy?

But the culture in this area draws people and keeps them here.

An opportunity to work in the arts brought me to Cooperstown in 2006. At first I balked at the idea of moving from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Otsego County. I had graduated from college with a degree in public relations and a degree in theater. I thought, "What am I going to do for fun in this place? Could I ever be involved in theater again?"

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