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When was the last time you paid art forward?

It's not just fun. It's the right thing to do.

When was the last time you paid art forward?

When was the last time you paid for art?

Anything — a dance concert. A movie. A painting to hang in your bathroom.

And was that at the direct-to-artist level? A print from a limited run? A play with real-life actors in the same space, breathing the same air as you? A street performer?


And when was the last time you paid art forward?

What if the next time you paid for a theater ticket, someone who worked at that theater didn't go out and spend that money on beer (not that beer isn't an art form) but instead took it and bought a handcrafted necklace? And then the person who made the necklace paid the cover to hear a local musician and picked up their CD?


See how happy this street performer is making people? Image via Thinkstock.

Art and culture generate a lot more money than you might think.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and National Endowment for the Arts did a study to figure out how much arts and culture really matter in the U.S. economy. The result? Arts and culture make up about 3.2% of GDP. That's half a trillion dollars.

That's more than travel and tourism.


These white-hot grease fires of entertainment are fueling the national economy. Image via Thinkstock.

And this is even with most of us not spending that much, individually, on art. Sure, maybe you went to the multiplex to catch "The Fast and the Furious: 18" or whatever number they're on now. Maybe you downloaded some music from iTunes and paid actual money for it.

But in our day-to-day, most of us don't spend that much money on art.

And very, very few of us are dropping Benjamins on small-scale or locally-produced art. Money that you spend at a local level has a much bigger effect than money that goes to a massive corporation.

She is not paying for art. Not cool, lady. Image via Thinkstock.

About $48 out of every $100 that you spend at a local gallery stays in your community.

For comparison, only $14 out of $100 you drop picking up a mass-produced decorative piece at a big-box store sticks around. Money staying in your community is a good thing. It generates jobs and prosperity as well as that unique local flavor.

Photos by Audrey Busta-Peck. Used with permission.

My friends Christopher and Audrey are amazing supporters of local art. They take their kids to gallery openings and actually buy paintings instead of just mooching on the free wine and cheese. They even commissioned some house numbers from local neon sculptor Jeff Chiplis. They integrate art into their daily lives.

The good folks at The Seeing Place Theater challenge you (and me) to be like Christopher and Audrey: Spend $20 on art and encourage everyone else who handles that bill after you to do the same.

All you have to do is write, "Use this for art," on a $20 and then go ... do that. Support a local orchestra. Buy a CD the next time you see a musician in a downtown dive. Heck, go commission something. That Jackson will circulate and maybe the next person who touches it will think, "Hm. Actually, I will spend this on art."

And make your community, and your economy, better.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less