The price of culture

ELINOR TATUM Publisher and Editor in Chief | 8/17/2011, 5:23 p.m.
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In Queens there is MOMA's PS1, the suggest price for which is $10 for adults, $5.00 for students and senior citizens.

A good part of the reason for some of these higher prices is that so much public money for the arts and cultural activities has been cut from the New York City budget. But for so many young people, the only place they will see fine art is by going to the museum. And for others, the only time they will ever see farm animals is at a zoo. How can we expect our youth to care about nature if there is none to show them? How can they understand where their food comes from if they can't see the way nature works?

We have a problem in this country with misplaced priorities. It costs less to go to a slasher film for 90 minutes than it does to spend the day in a museum or at the zoo.

And if you want so-called "high culture," the prices are even more unattainable. A ticket to the opera can be upward of $200. So, what do we expect? We have to rely on the schools to take trips to the opera and Broadway, the zoo and the museums. But the Board of Ed is cutting back on school trips.

Our kids are losing out. We are losing out. We need culture in our lives, and we need to figure out how to pay for it.

There are galleries in our communities; they, for the most part are free. There is community Theater and opera; they are accessible to the community. There are days when the major institutions are open for free, but the lines go around the block and it can get very crowded.

It is worth it, though. It is worth it to see a child's eyes light up as they look into the eyes of a tiger for the first time, see Monet's water lilies, Calder's circus or Jacob Lawrence's series on migration or hear the songs of "Porgy and Bess." It makes a difference in how we see the world, how we see beauty and how we see ourselves. Culture needs to be accessible. It is for the betterment of us all.