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Remember the 1990s advertising slogan from a certain credit card company that read "membership has its privileges?" I've been thinking about that lately, as it's the time of year that many non-profit societies and arts organizations are embarking on membership and subscription renewal campaigns.
Anecdotally, I'm hearing that fewer and fewer people seem willing to spend a bit of money each year to take out memberships in these organizations - organizations that provide much value to communities and to society.
We hear it is much the same for organizations that sell season subscriptions. Even our Cougars - lead by an outstanding organization working hard to create a winning team and entertaining game experiences - appear to be feeling the pinch.
Conversely, in this age of instantaneous gratification and the culture of recreational shopping, it seems that memberships in big box stores and retail reward programs are growing.
Please don't think I am not understanding of the lure of paying a big box store an annual fee to enter their premises in order to hand over more money for their products. I get it. You pay money to save money. But I do wonder if this is just lowering the bar, not just by the obvious consequences of having to pay an additional fee for services that we used to take for granted but also as a reflection of our priorities in life.
In reality, the privilege of being part of a civilized society is, and always has been, about the privilege of participation.
In Prince George alone, we have quite literally hundreds of non-profit, membership-based societies that provide programs and services that are imperative to the growth - and survival - of our society. These range from organizations that support health initiatives, to those that enhance the lives of the underprivileged, right through to the arts, sports and cultural groups that enhance the quality of life for all.
And then there are the organizations who package tickets or programs into subscriptions.
As a subscriber to your local orchestra or theatre company, you not only get a price value by purchasing your tickets in advance, but you are (perhaps unknowingly) helping that non-profit arts organization make ends meet by infusing much-needed cash-flow support for the organization to do its best work.
At the Community Arts Council, our annual membership dues range from being free for youth, to $30 for adult individuals, $60 for organizations and $75 for businesses. Benefits of membership include access to advertising programs, free workshops, networking events and opportunities for artists to exhibit and sell works throughout the year.
If I could make one wish, it would be to see everyone take out one membership in a local non-profit organization this year. Because at the end of the day, membership is about belonging to a community of like-minded individuals sharing in impactful and memorable activities and the increased self-worth from knowing that you truly made a difference.
To learn more about joining the Community Arts Council and other local arts organizations, you can visit our website at www.studio2880.com.
Volunteer PG is another great resource to learn more about non-profit organizations that offer memberships. Their website is www.volunteerpg.com.
And of course if you like to attend concerts and theatre, try to work a season subscription into your budget. You get the best prices, the seats of your choice, and the high esteem that comes with being a patron of the arts.
Executive Director of Prince George and District Community Arts Council
This article first appeared in the Prince George Citizen
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