And if you don't know about Teen Tix yet, you should—organizations that provide teenagers with $5 tickets to the opera, ballet, and every theater in town are key to the future of theater, dance, and other performing arts. As everyone knows, things are changing in that world: subscription models are increasingly untenable, the engines are rattling in arts organizations across the country, and the future of philanthropy—along with the future of wealth in America—has become more of a question than a certainty.
Getting young people in the door isn't just about giving them access—it's about letting them help the rest of us think through some of the problems. Just their presence can make a difference. If theaters only see the faces of middle-aged people who can afford $75 tickets, that influences their thinking. If 16 year-olds who love theater and dance but only have $5 begin showing up (and they've already started showing up), that will influence their thinking as well.
Helping the Teen Tix blog grow, getting some of their voices into the mix of the public conversation about the future of culture in Seattle, can only be a force for good.
That's the gamble, anyway. And, over the years, Teen Tix has developed a strong relationship with The Stranger. I've gushed about it in the paper and have taught its young critics' workshops several times, as has David Schmader. Lindy West recently hosted their first-ever Teeny Awards bash.
So if you know a young person who might want some serious experience writing and editing a teen press corps on a robust blog—blogs are the new newspapers, don'tchaknow—see here.
* And if you don't, please hold your scoffing. When I started teaching for the Teen Tix program a few years (several years?) ago, I was surprised by how many people between the ages of 14 and 18 would show up regularly for an unpaid, unaccredited class in being an arts critic, of all things. But they're out there. For awhile, we called the class/corps FUCA—pronounced "fucka"—for "future unemployed critics of America," but as it got bigger, the Teen Tix ringmistress, Holly Arsenault, decided that name was too depressing/obscene. Nothing gold can stay.