“The art of giving well”, Article in Post and Courier

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Judging from news reports, the holiday season is all about shopping. Are people spending less? Will discounts go deeper? Where can desperate parents find Zhu Zhu Pets?

And while shopping isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t the only thing. The holidays are a time to look for inspiration and to be with family and friends, as well as gift giving. Fortunately, there is something that might just do it all: a ticket to a holiday performance of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Stage or the Charleston Ballet Theatre.

Everyone who buys a ticket to “The Nutrcracker” or “The Messiah” or “A Christmas Carol” is doing something for the community. Those dollars keep local arts groups going.

Last year at this time, the balance sheet looked grim for the CSO. It needed big donors and a plan to weather a dark financial storm. It also needed what all arts organizations need all year long — audiences. Ticket sales help the budget, of course, but audiences inspire performers who inspire audiences.

But don’t go to a performance because you want to support arts organizations. Go because you’ll be making memories with friends and family.

Take a grandchild to the Charleston Ballet Theatre’s magical performance of the Nutcracker Suite. There are four performances from which to choose. Take a friend to “A Christmas Carol.” The familiar story of Ebeneezer Scrooge is always worth seeing. With 12 more performances on the calendar, there’s sure to be a fit.

Take your family to the Holiday Pops concert, “The Messiah,” a Gospel Christmas concert, Holiday Strings or Holiday Brass concert, or “The Messiah” sing-along.

You needn’t even think about how much the $5 you paid for a ticket will help. Just let the sounds and sights of the season come alive on stage. (But, should you really want to know, the CSO, Charleston Ballet Theatre and Charleston Stage are healthier than last year, but not close to being out of the financial woods.)

A calendar for the three groups is posted at charlestonpremierarts.com, a Web site funded with help from a private donor.

These organizations work year-round to keep alive arts in Charleston.

Attending a performance might be the most pleasant “giving” you’ll do this year. And it will certainly be more refreshing than searching for Zhu Zhu Pets.