The Frau went to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) last Saturday night. They were playing for the third year at the Morton Arboretum in Chicago’s western suburbs. The concert was wonderful. It made The Frau want to see more of the CSO. Except…
Here’s the thing. Going to most musical events or shows can be a time-consuming, stressful, and costly thing to do in the U.S.
Even with the CSO playing closer to The Frau than in their usual downtown location, this still meant a 25-minute drive to the Arboretum each way, not to mention having to wait another 30 minutes after the show was over just to be able to leave the parking lot due to all congestion. (The Arboretum is not public transport accessible, in case you’re wondering.)
Anyway—The Frau was interviewing an American music professor at a German university on Monday. This professor thought that classical music had much more support in Germany and in Europe than in the U.S. The Frau asked her way.
“Because you can walk to it,” she said.
The Frau never thought about the arts and the support of the arts this way. But this, dear yodelers, may be exactly the reason that arts organizations struggle in the U.S.
When The Frau worked in Zurich, she would just walk over to the Zurich Opera House (a mere four-minute walk from her office) to see a performance. There was no driving, parking, or stress on her time. When the performance was over, she simply caught a direct train to her village, which left from the station a five-minute walk from the Opera House. This train came every 15 minutes, no matter the time of day or night. When she got to her village, she walked three minutes to her apartment.
Compare this to The Frau’s father in Chicago. He would also walk over to the Lyric Opera of Chicago after work. But then he would strategically leave the opera before the performance was over so he could rush to the train station to take a ridiculously slow train back to his Chicago suburb (that only ran once an hour in the evenings) home. When he arrived at the train station in his hometown, he either had to walk two miles home or have my mother pick him up. The lack of transport and good transport options in the U.S. is atrocious and it affects every part of life—even the support of the arts.
The Frau often wishes she could get a CSO subscription. But she’s just not willing to take on the hassle and stress involved with getting to Orchestra Hall and getting home--at least more than once a year.
What do you think about the situation for the arts in Europe versus the United States?