Frickin’ awesome!

Not all charities are created equal—or offer equal benefits to the giver. I suppose it feels a little depressing to read this sort of blunt analysis, but calling it what is is probably a good first step in both considering less-self-interested realms of generosity and service—and in recognizing and celebrating the goodness and possibility, such as they are, of cultural places and spaces like the Frick museum.


Nonetheless, a few months ago I became a ”Young Fellow” at the Frick museum ($500 per year; “all but $340 is tax deductible”). I’ll admit I felt slightly ambivalent about it. As much as I enjoy going to museums and sincerely believe they help to make the world a better place, giving to them is not quite on a par with giving to a cancer hospital. Cultural institutions are a luxury in our society. Surely there are more pressing concerns.

My agenda was to join an organisation that promotes community. In my research, I found that cultural institutions have a monopoly on providing frequent, affordable events that also, frankly, seem fun. My hard-earned, limited income could instead go toward feeding starving children in Africa, which is surely a worthier cause than maintaining the art collection of an old mansion on Fifth Avenue. But starving children do not provide fun parties. Point: museum.

from “Partying for Charity,” by Allison Schrager, More Intelligent Life, 12 November 2008 :: via Ideas blog

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