Last night I went to an excellent piano recital at a local university. The program was difficult and impressive, and the pianist, who had been an undergraduate student at that university, is on his way towards what I am certain will be a brilliant career (and I "know from good").
When this pianist was a college student his recitals were filled to capacity with members of the university community, students, friends, townspeople, and people from his home town. He was the pride and joy of the music department and the community at large. Last night's concert had an audience of ten or twelve people, and I spied only three members of the music faculty in attendance. I feel (and have always felt) privileged to hear him play. I imagine that everyone who was in the audience last night felt as privileged as I did.
Perhaps more people would have come to the concert if the university (or the music department) had publicized it adequately. Or maybe it is the fault of the local paper. Like many smaller cities in America, the once local newspaper, which runs out of a central corporate office in a distant state, does not understand the value of printing press releases about recitals. The people who make editorial decisions are not involved in the communities they are "serving." One "event" is just as important as another "event," I guess (unless it is a sporting event).
I like to believe that local culture is necessary for the health of a community. We are now, because of technology, closely in touch with one another through email (though fewer and fewer people write email message--or even read their email) and Facebook (where friends who live elsewhere feel as close as if they lived nearby, and friends who live nearby may as well be elsewhere). Perhaps all this access to things "elsewhere" makes keeping culture in a small community more difficult than it should be.