For some reason, during rehearsals for the show I'm in, I've noticed just how much work is actually put into "art" - be it theatre, galleries or whatever. In my case, theatre, there's not just all the (considerable) work actors and actresses put in - but also people who help with all the technical aspects, people who help creating costumes and sets and even people who show up to help usher and otherwise help in some capacity. It wouldn't be exaggerating to say that over 1,000 man hours has been put into the musical I'm in - Moby Dick - and we're just a college theatre company. A similar amount of time was probably spent at any reader's nearest high school production. It's a lot of effort, but there's one thing that makes it all worth it: people showing up.
One of the interesting things about theater at a non-professional level is that it's still tremendously expensive to produce. Despite the fact that no profits are made, rights to a particular show don't come cheap. Costumes and sets take serious cash. In fact, even if every show sold out at my production of Moby Dick (and it won't), the UMASS Dartmouth Theatre Company may just break even. When I did Urinetown: the Musical, which was a professional-calibre show and received overwhelmingly positive reviews, the production was thousands in the red - and it was by all means a reasonably cheap show to put on (our set was fairly inexpensive and only a handful of costumes needed to be rented).
There are two reasons for the redline: there aren't nearly as many people going to these events as one would like - even when we advertise big time, put on a great show and get great reviews. The second is we consider breaking even a luxury: the University is very generous to the Theatre Company, so we're able to have very low-cost tickets. It's just nice to have people show up, but that seems like a tremendously hard thing to do. At $3 and $4 dollars for student tickets and $10 for adults, I don't get it. Why not show up?
Seriously, why don't people who live in a community not show up to their local college or high school production? They're often very good. When I was in high school, our musical productions were about as good as they are at UMASS Dartmouth - and they're pretty darn good here. Tickets are cheap, less than going to the movies or going out to the 99. Is it just that people don't know when these shows are, despite the massive attempts at advertising? Is it that people are out of practice in actually caring about community events? The same could be said for local artists putting on some kind of show, be they dancers, photographers or painters.
People often complain about a lack of activities, but there's so much more going on if people would ever consider getting out of their typical mold. Society would be a better place if more people showed up. Everyone would have more fun, from the audience to the people spending all their time rehearsing, painting or doing whatever. Furthermore, a larger audience would encourage more artistic endeavors and community events - and diversify what's already there. A sense of community is something seriously lacking in America, but it's only lacking because people aren't taking advantage of what's already here and present.