Please stop, think for a moment and raise your hand if you’ve been to a “fine arts” event since the beginning of this semester. For those who raised your hands (and you’re probably being stared at and judged right now), how many have you been to? One? Five? All of them ever?
To answer my own question, yes, I can raise my hand — I’ve been to at least one fine arts event. But, for someone who considers herself interested in fine arts, I feel like the quantity of events I’ve attended is super low. To date, I’ve been to two musicals (The School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s “Into the Woods” and MUSKET’s “Aida”) and an opera (School of MT&D’s “The Elixir of Love”). I’ve also wandered through the University of Michigan Museum of Art several times. But … that’s it.
While I’ve almost matched my “event points” from last year during the course of one semester, I still feel guilty. The University brings us so many awesome events (and student tickets are so cheap!), that I feel like I’m missing out when I choose not to attend something. For example, this past semester I had an interest in attending the University Musical Society-hosted outdoor play “Susurrus” and seeing the Japanese Sankai Juku dance company. Both events would have been unique and eye-opening experiences. Now, they’re just opportunities missed.
But let’s pretend I had made it to these events. Yay for me! This would only bring the number of events I attended up to five (excluding UMMA visits). Five still seems pretty low though, considering I never attended a Basement Arts show, nor any of the symphonies, orchestras or quartets, nor any choral or a capella performances. I haven’t even stepped foot in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.
Maybe this is presumptuous of me, but I feel like a good portion of Michigan students have similar feelings. With so many other opportunities on campus — internships, activities, sports, Greek life, volunteering, squirrel feeding — it can be hard to make time for fine arts events, especially on top of homework, sleep and chilling with friends. There are just too many things to do and not enough hours in the day.
And, you know what? That’s OK. It’s OK if you haven’t attended a bunch of fine arts events. It’s even OK if you’ve only attended one. Right now, we’re in college and life is about having fun, experiencing new things and balancing all the opportunities we have in this world. And if someone doesn’t have time for fine arts events or has been to a few and doesn’t think they’re fun, that’s the person’s prerogative. Time is precious and we have to spend it how we want to.
But for those of you who haven’t attended a single fine arts event since becoming a student here, I would strongly urge you to check one out. Sports have never been my main area of interest, but last year I attended a few football games and I (shockingly, to me) had fun! This year, instead of football, I intend to go to a hockey game. I would never want to attend every sports game ever, but I’m glad I went to the football games, and I’m interested to see what hockey is all about.
A similar mindset could be applied to fine arts events. So, as a New Year’s resolution (do people still make these?), please do me a favor: Look through the multiple event calendars that the University puts online and pick one event to attend next semester. I’ll pick mine first — School of MT&D’s drama “The Crucible.” Now it’s your turn. There are plenty of events, ranging from a UMS performance by world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming to School of MT&D’s show “Dancing Americas.” Get a group of friends together, take a break for one evening from partying or studying and make an effort to try something new.
For those who attend a lot of fine arts events, great for you! You’ve found a niche! But please take a moment and analyze what kind of events to which you tend to go. For me, I go to many more theater and art exhibits than I do symphonies or a capella concerts. And again, this is OK. I know what kinds of things I like and I seek out those events. However, I would strongly urge people who (like me) fall into this category to also create a New Year’s resolution: Look through the events calendars and pick one event next semester that falls outside your normal fine arts-events zone.
Again, I’ll go first: Next semester I will go to UMS’s Kodo, a Japanese dance group that looks super intense. Now it’s your turn. For those who don’t go to museums, exploring UMMA is always a great option. For those who shy away from musicals, MUSKET’s “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” should be a fun introduction to that type of theater. But really, any event that catches your eye and makes you say “whaaat?” is something you should try to attend.
Everybody ready? Do you all have your events picked out? OK. One, two, three — LET’S GET CULTURED!