It’s not news to us here in Baltimore that our city has fantastic culture, including one of the best symphonies in the entire U.S. But it’s still nice to see other people catching on!
In Slate today, Alec MacGillis offers up a “Rust Belt theory of low-cost high culture,” which pretty much boils down to the point that smaller cities with struggling post-industrial economies (ahem, Baltimore) still have fantastic cultural institutions — museums, symphonies and the like — at a much lower price point than their counterpoints in New York or Boston:
Baltimore is one of a handful of cities where the economic might and urban scale of a bygone era (Baltimore was the sixth-largest city in the country as recently as 1960) created both premier cultural institutions and a foundation of local wealth—aka old money—that, however dissipated by time, lingers to this day and continues to provide support for the institutions. At the same time, however, these cities’ decline in population and prominence has left these institutions perpetually on the hunt for new patrons.
There are, of course, downsides to low-cost culture — it’s hard for many of the theaters and arts organizations to sustain themselves, for one. But it’s still nice to see Baltimore’s impressive cultural institutions getting the appreciation they deserve.
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