On Stepping Up My Local Arts Game (A 20 AND 17 Update)

January. I put out a challenge. Support more local artists this year. Tangibly. With money. I’m not out to blow the bank or revolutionize the local arts scene singlehandedly. We’re going to do that together. You and me. We are going to ‘vote with our wallets’ in 2017 and see what we can do collectively for the Edmonton arts scene with the 20 AND 17 Challenge.

The breakdown? $20 dollars towards local arts experiences and $17 towards local arts products. Every month. That’s my goal, so what’s my reality?

February went well, actually. I hit both targets, plus a bit. I had a great time, too.

Last month, I spent some cash on Bandcamp buying digital music from local bands. One of those albums is the ethereal Hireath from 100 Mile House. It’s a beautiful album. After that purchase I decided to see this band live the first chance I got. 

That chance came February 23. CBC’s Key of A was doing a live recording at the Needle by showcasing four Edmonton acts, 100 Mile House included. Tickets were just $12, plus a buck for the ticket fee. For the first time in a long time, I went to event alone. I sat there and bought a drink and some food and I listened. The show was gorgeous, with a crazy-good violin player hitting some Andrew-Bird-esque heights. I sat there with this 20 AND 17 challenge prodding my mind, then headed for the merch table. $25 later (more if you count the frustratingly high ATM fees - ‘Square’ card-readers are SO worth it!)  I have a swanky T-Shirt featuring the lyrics of a 100 Mile House song in a handwritten design. The fellow from the band was kind enough to suggest I might try a medium instead of a small. I guess I’ve expanded a bit, because I’m wearing the T right now and it fits, well, ‘to a T’.

So that's $38 spent on local arts in one night, and I’m convinced this little challenge had something to do with that. 

A couple of nights late, I headed to Arcadia for Bros Before Prose, a live event featuring Jason Lee Norman’s short stories and Jordan Norman’s music. Both were great, but the event was free. When I offered to buy a CD at the end, Jordan refused my five dollar bill, saying the copy he was giving me had a dented case. So I couldn’t spend more money if I tried apparently. Except for the drinks I bought which, over time, keep these great venues open so more local artists can bring us more local music, spoken word and more.

All in all, I’m loving this challenge. It hits the sweet spot between just enough money that I have to make an effort to do something I wouldn’t otherwise do, but no so much money I cannot afford it. 

How is the challenge going for you? Have you experienced anything, or brought anything beautiful home, as a result of these nudges?

Comment below and let's find out what kind of dent we’re making.

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