Caring for Your City's Soul


Thanksgiving break has begun for Texas teachers (Sam and I are in heaven right now), and we all enter a week that is quintessentially American in its self contradiction - a day of gratitude immediately followed by several days of consumer frenzy. After this long weekend of purchase pressure, non-profit organizations get the last word on Giving Tuesday, by turning dollars into good.

It’s clear to see how donating to cancer research or organizations resourcing those in immediate need bring good into the world. Sometimes it’s less easy to see why giving to art is essential to the health of your community and the world. Here are three reasons to consider making your local arts organizations a part of your Giving Tuesday and hopefully a regular part of your charitable giving.

In a society permeated by external sources of reward and pleasure, art provides a platform for introspection. Quality art offers its audiences a suspended moment to deepen in thoughtfulness and humanity. Through art, we are lifted above the everyday into a place of connection to ourselves and the world. Support for the arts supports individual well-being.

And it follows that through art we build empathy and community. Both the art-makers and their audience have the opportunity to inhabit another’s story. Whether its public art, or art housed in a performance hall or museum, viewers are exposed to experiences and world-views outside their own. Support for the arts supports human connection.

For the pragmatists, many studies point to the connection between a thriving art scene and strong economy. Here’s one of the most comprehensive analyses, where you can see the immediate economy-strengthening effects of a vibrant city culture. Cities with diverse, well-funded arts are more attractive to tourists and potential residents. Support for the arts creates jobs for the artists, and the “night on the town” of every person who goes to see the art you support infuses dollars into the food service industry, the art organization, and - subsequently - the city coffers. Support for the arts supports community vitality and growth.

An energetic part of our city’s growing arts scene, Verdigris is making good. Making good music and making good on our promises to our donors and community. We are at the leading edge of creative music-making in Dallas and are creating music that matters. Our current project, The Little Match Girl Passion, is a haunting, completely original collaboration with Avant Chamber Ballet that will challenge and inspire our audience.

On Saturday, Verdigris held its all-day rehearsal for The Little Match Girl Passion. I walked away from that rehearsal with a deep sense of gratitude for the singers and the art we are making together. You know you are part of a good thing when the professionals who are paid to show up stick around to help with things beyond their pay. Every single member of this choir and its board believe in the power of music, and the power of Verdigris’ uniquely creative approach.

Your support for us, and for other growing arts organizations, ensures that the soul of this rapidly growing city of extremes (extremes of income disparity, sprawl, diversity, worldview) is well cared for.

Erinn Sensenig