Editor’s Note: It Really Is Better Live

You work hard, so at the end of the day (or week), you’re too tired to go to that local play, concert or gallery show, and instead you plop in front of the TV again. Does this sound like you?

It sure sounds like me way too often.

But not one day last month. I went for the first time to a different music venue with my wife and we had a blast. We sat with friends and enjoyed the band and music. Afterward, I paid my compliments to the guitarist and even stayed to chat with other members of the audience. We had such a good time that we’re going back tonight to the same venue to hear a different band. I know someone in the band, so I will make sure to say hi after the show.

Local music is my favorite way to enjoy the arts. Sure the performances aren’t as polished as what you hear on Spotify, but you get things that are much more important. You get personal connections and direct experiences. A few months back, I was so moved by a choral performance that I actually cried during the concert. I can’t remember the last time I did that listening to recorded music.

During live performances by local people, you solidify yourself as part of this community we call Hawai‘i. It’s one of the best ways to build bonds with others in a world in which – despite social media – we seem less connected to others than ever before.

This month’s issue includes an 18-page report on Arts and Culture in Hawai‘i. It is the fifth of six CHANGE Reports on major local issues; next month’s report on Government and Civic Engagement will be the final one in this series, though Hawaii Business Magazine will continue to address these important topics in coming years.

Arts and culture is a crucial way that we express our shared humanity, and sustain both a community’s well-being and our personal well-being.

But the arts in Hawai‘i are struggling to draw audiences and grow beyond their small groups of patrons. They need more of our money, support and attendance. Here are three reasons to provide that extra support.

The first reason is selfish. As I already said, the direct connections and personal experiences you get during live performances are much more profound and emotional than what you usually see on TV. Here’s just one example: At an art gallery you can view a painting or sculpture from all angles, see the textures and details, talk with others about what they are seeing, maybe even chat with the artist. Why cheat yourself out of such experiences?

The second reason to support the arts is both selfish and altruistic. Artistic performances bring us together and help sustain and enhance our community. We create deeper ties to our neighbors. That’s something each of us requires. And it is something Hawai‘i and all of America desperately needs.

The third motive is at least partly altruistic. Arts and culture – like education, sports and religion and spirituality – help turn children into well-rounded adults. So if you want your children and everybody else’s children to grow up whole, then you should support the arts locally. Of course, the arts are also a great way to revive an adult who has regressed from a fully functioning human being into a creature one stage from the primordial soup.

There are so many artistic opportunities waiting out there. Start with your favorite and explore from there.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Opinion