"I went to The Mill for breakfast today and got a black cup of coffee and a single slice of toast topped with butter and sour strawberry jam," says writer Jolie O'Dell. "For $6." Her outrage at the way we routinely drop $200 on yoga pants, $300 on jeans and $5000 on a sound system despite being unable to distinguish it from one costing $2000 is symptomatic, she observes, of being knowledgable at the expense of wise. "We don't go to the opera," she laments, "we overspend on the simplest facets of life."
Like coffee with milk. And toast.
But why? Is it merely snobbishness associated with a 3.0 version of the emperor's new clothes? Maybe. Maybe not.
First the not. Take all those cuts in spending on arts education. Arts education is the strongest predictor of participation in the arts. No kids being educated in the arts eventually translates into fewer adults supporting them. Perhaps the spending-cut chickens are wandering home to roost. Also, those in the tax bracket able to routinely drop $5000 on audio systems and $300 on jeans might not really know better. A large percentage of the ultra-high net worth individuals - which make up the Supremium tribe - made their money in non-artsy industries like manufacturing and waste management. Meaning they never paid much attention to the arts while making all that dough. Of course, now that they can easily afford it, they lack an education in it. (image)
Now for the maybe. While people may not "get" the arts, they certainly "get" toast. Bread is something many, many of us know, eat and love. And can discern good quality from bad. But the thing is, those charging $4 for a slice of toast aren't simply slapping a piece of Wonderbread onto a paper plate and giving it a schmear of margarine. Rather, this fancy toast comes from fancy bread made by someone with some fancy breadmaking skills. And skills like these are just what we should be supporting. "Save your money," exhorts O'Dell. "Buy regular coffee...Bake your own bread." But if we don't necessarily know how and we don't support the people doing the baking, we might eventually forget altogether.
Here is the podcast I made about this. Please do enjoy!
Music: Enter the Party by Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott