Just Giving it Away, Part 2

This is part 2 of a series of posts in response to Matthew Malady’s “El Cheapo Guide To Culture” on Slate.com. Go here for the first of the series.


Be creative: Malady’s strategy is to share magazine subscriptions, take them from doctors’ offices, or just read them at the bookstore. Never mind the fact that he’s writing for a magazine, therefore undermining his own career, this is a poor recommendation. The staff at the bookstore will take notice eventually.

The public library comes to the rescue; many offer reading rooms stocked with the latest periodicals.

Or maybe instead of reading outdated dentist-office magazines you really get your brain in gear. Take a class at the community college, art museum or dance studio. Not necessarily the cheapest choice, but many organizations offer a trial class or mixer events. See if you like it, meet new people, and maybe pick up a new skill. Actually be creative, not conniving.

And think about what else a bookstore has to offer. Some have author events, music nights, reading groups, poetry readings and children’s activities. Singer/songwriter Krystle Warren used to perform at Prospero’s on 39th Street when she lived in Kansas City.

Into sports? Attend a high school, Little League or T-Bones game.

Enjoy comedy? Spend time with kids.

Like to eat good food? Organize a traveling feast or host a potluck with fellow gourmands.

Be willing to compromise: Malady encourages music fans to set up their folding chairs just outside the gates at music festivals. Not only is this underhanded, but this advice is blatantly unfair to the many artists and organizations that produce excellent entertainment free of charge. The Kansas City Public Library hosts frequent events: scripted readings by the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, Friday Family Fun night, and a celebration of Mexican Independence Day with Marimba Sol de Chiapas, to name a few. I’ve attended standing-room-only events such as a lecture with architect Moshe Safdie and a packed performance of the Bach Aria Soloists.

Interested in other events? The past month alone had Dance in the Park, the Prairie Village Jazz Festival (though plans were derailed this year, it’s already in the works for 2012), the Plaza Art Fair (with art, music, food, activities), the Un-Plaza Art Fair, the Kansas City Juggling Festival and a performance by violinist Caroline Goulding as part of the Harriman-Jewell Series. There are First Friday gallery openings every month in the Crossroads and music at Corinthian Hall on Third Fridays during the summer. Also during the summer there are weekly performances at the Plaza, Zona Rosa and a percussion jam session in Loose Park. Though tickets range from $35-$100, the Annual West 18th Street Fashion Show is free if you are willing to stand (and get there early for a good spot). Coming up you have the Shawnee Indian Mission Fall Festival, WaterFire on Brush Creek, and an intriguing performance at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art by Teri Frame.

There doesn’t need to be much compromise at all when it comes to stellar performances at a zero dollar price.

Check back tomorrow for the next part of the series.

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