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Michael Kaiser

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What I Am Giving Thanks for This Year

Posted: 11/19/2012 8:29 am

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for many reasons. I love the tradition of getting my friends and family together for a big meal. I love to cook. I enjoy the fact that this holiday can be celebrated by anyone, regardless of faith. And I like the self-reflection that it inspires. For Thanksgiving is, truly, about giving thanks. Not about a stuffed turkey or cranberry sauce.

While there is much that gives us concern in the current environment, we who work in the arts truly have a great deal to be thankful for this and every year.

We get to spend our lives in pursuit of something magical. Our product is constantly changing and evolving. It is impossible to become bored when each project is new and different.

We get to collaborate with people of astonishing creativity and vision. Sharing ideas with a truly creative person makes me happier than anything else in life. And watching a production blossom from the great work of many different people is continually inspiring.

We get to invite others to view our work, to excite them or anger them, bore them or inspire them. And they keep coming, season after season, willing to spend their own money to watch what we create. (And at today's ticket prices, this represents a tremendous vote of confidence.)

We have the support of so many people who want us to continue making art and prove it every day by donating funds, time and energy to allow us to do our work. Over the past two decades, the amount of resources we need has escalated tremendously, and yet our donors continue to give and give and give. Our volunteers freely donate to us huge amounts of their time and our board members must cope with a wide range of problems without receiving the same personal gratification we feel as we make art.

We get to introduce our field to young people; watching young people stretch their own creative muscles, we cannot help but feel energized. We know we are building the next generation of arts lovers, audiences, donors, volunteers and board members, and maybe even the next Alvin Ailey, Jasper Johns or Yo-Yo Ma.

We get to help talented newcomers build their careers. Our field constantly enjoys the emergence of new, fresh, talented artists who astonish us with their virtuosity and creativity. We know that we are part of an endless continuum of creativity that will stretch long into the future.

We get to learn about others, from other cultures and often other countries, as we develop cross-cultural projects. Our field doesn't need to respect political or geographical boundaries. We can develop work with almost anyone in the world.

We get to dream. And the bigger our dreams, the more people we draw to our work. And the easier it becomes to find the support for the next big dream.

Yes, we have much to be thankful for as we eat our pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

 
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