Some years ago, I read statistics about the percentage of income that people in various countries spend on cultural activities — music, tickets to plays, visits to museums, and the like — and the Irish came out on top (if I remember correctly, by a wide margin). I don’t think the U.S. was even in the top five (I will keep looking for this chart — can’t locate at the moment).

I think we could promote greater participation in cultural offerings among the U.S. populace by making these activities affordable. For example, the City of Chicago offers free museum passes through its library system (During a visit last summer, I took full advantage of this  — with my mother’s library card — thank you, Mr. Mayor!). Some theaters offer free tickets to people who will serve as ushers. Most major cities host a variety of free outdoor events during the summer. I am always on the lookout for affordable activities to spark my imagination and uplift my soul.

Like most people today, I don’t have the disposable income to pay the exorbitant prices for tickets to major concerts and theatrical events — but I really, really, really wanted to see War Horse when it hit Los Angeles. Fortunately, I was able to purchase a ticket for $20 (plus a $6 service fee) through Yes, the seat was in the upper, upper, upper balcony in the top, top, top row — but that was just fine with me. The show was wonderful — moving and inspiring and life-affirming. If the War Horse tour swings your way, find a way to see this amazing show.

I first read about War Horse in the New York Times when the show was running in NYC — and don’t recall ever reading such a rave review. When I learned that the play was based on a book by Michael Morpurgo, I read the book as soon as I could get a copy from the library. (Find it here.) What a book! The horse (Joey) is the narrator — something that, I guess, didn’t translate to the play or eventual movie. I was in awe of how the author (Morpurgo) was able to pull off a horse narrator and make me completely buy it.

Kudos to you, Mr. Morpurgo — for bringing to life this wonderful creation that has seen so many successful incarnations (book, play, movie). You are truly inspired. Thank you!