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Feb. 27 2013

The Crisis in the Arts: Is Food to Blame?

By Dyana Neal | Posted in Host Blogs | No Comments

Don’t you love it (or perhaps get a little jealous) when a writer articulates something you’ve pondered and haven’t been able to put into words? That’s exactly what happened when I read the following New York Times op-ed piece.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/opinion/sunday/how-food-replaced-art-as-high-culture.html?_r=0

My colleagues and I love to eat, and we love to talk about food. I’d be willing to bet that most of us consider ourselves “adventurous” diners,  so perhaps we’re guilty of some of the behaviors Mr. Deresiewicz bemoans, but I hope we’re not on our way to caring more about risotto than Rossini, and not just because the latter is one of the reasons we’re all employed. Can you remember the best meal you’ve ever eaten as vividly as you do the first time you heard a now-beloved piece of music or saw a truly stunning painting? I can honestly say no, and not just because my 2007 birthday dinner at Oceana involved wine that was as plentiful and delicious as the food. That experience, amazing as it was, can’t compare with my first live hearing of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra (played by the BSO with the late Eduardo Mata conducting) in 1994, nor can it top my first in-person glimpse of Wayne Thiebaud’s Cakes at the Whitney in 2001. Just try seeing that one on a museum wall and not having the urge to stick a finger in the “icing” on one of those gateaux. I dare you.

High ticket prices are one of the reasons commonly cited for the drop in attendance at classical music performances, and one venerable company recently announced an attempt to lure audiences in by dropping the cost of admission:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/arts/music/metropolitan-opera-to-reduce-ticket-prices-next-season.html Okay, so an average ticket to the Met will still set you back $156, but it’s not hard to spend that much (per person!) on dinner in New York these days, and Baltimore isn’t far behind where the pricey-menu trend is concerned. Are lack of familiarity with classical music and perceived elitism what’s really keeping people out of  opera houses and concert halls? Perhaps the empty wallets caused by $18 appetizers and $42 entrees are the true culprits.

Wayne Thiebaud Cakes

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Dyana Neal

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Dyana is WBJC's midday host. Her full bio can be read here.

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