Art and  Culture contribute to building lively cities and communities—creating a sense of belonging, where people want to live, work, and visit. It plays a major role in supporting social and economic health.

  1. Buy one piece of local art a year, every year, no matter what. It could be a painting to grace your mantle, one your children will argue over after you’re gone. Or it could be a hand-thrown coffee cup that just makes every cup taste better, somehow. Size doesn’t matter; it’s the principle.
  2. Learn one new thing each year. Take a photography class. Spend a weekend at a journal-writing workshop. Attend a demonstration on painting, and step up and ask every question you can think of. Then, sign up for the introductory course.
  3. Expose yourself. That is, expose yourself to some form of artistic expression that you think you won’t like. Catch the community opera presentation of Figaro. Or, if opera’s your thing, take in an earful of the local grunge group, Spiked and Nasty. Think poetry’s for the birds? Open your ears, and your mind.
  4. Give the gift of your community’s artists. This year, make every gift you buy something original: a CD hot-pressed by a local choir; a new book by a local writer; a hand blown glass bauble for the tree; and from the forge next door, a hook to hang a hat on—which, serendipitously, was hand felted down the street.
  5. Pass it around. Buy someone else a ticket to something you enjoy. Take a friend along, or just treat someone you appreciate—anonymously. Have you ever bought a ticket to something and then been unable to attend? Don’t ask for a refund: ask the venue to find a deserving recipient, preferably one who’s broke. Or send two tickets to a youth centre or seniors’ facility. At the event, try to guess who might be there thanks to you.
  6. Challenge yourself: pick a good day and try to find as many art-related things to do as you can. Do them all: read the book, write the poem, play the tune, hear the band, watch the dance, applaud the play, go to the gallery. Challenge six other people to do the same.
  7. Sing. Learn a song composed by a local musician and sing it: in the shower, in the car, walking down the street. Drive your co-workers crazy. It doesn’t matter that you sound like a wombat in heat. When you go to sleep, dream about it. Now, teach it to someone else.
  8. Volunteer: for your local cultural event, for the theatre production, for your arts organization. Sit at the information table, paint the backdrop, take the tickets, do the sound check, carry the chairs, place the podium. Afterwards, help with the cleanup. Then go for a beer with the gang.
  9. Join up: there’s an arts organization out there for you. These are the groups that make things happen, so you can buy things, learn about things, expose yourself, give gifts, pass the wealth, challenge yourself, sing like a wombat in heat, and volunteer your time for the fun and friends that it brings. Find it. Make it yours.
  10. Stimulate sustainability through art & culture by sharing this list.

Source: “Ten Things You Can Do to Embrace Local Art & Culture,” by Anne DeGrace, Creative City News, Special Edition 2006