Eight arts resolutions for 2014

I have a confession: Despite my love for all things arts and cultural, I don’t get out and experience enough of it. Not enough time, too expensive, no one to go with—there’s always an excuse, right? Well, it stops now. Mid-December is prime New Year’s resolution-making time, so here are my eight arts and culture resolutions for 2014:

1. Walk the street: There are art walks all over town, from First Friday in downtown Phoenix and the Scottsdale Artwalk every Thursday to monthly events in Mesa and Chandler. These events always provide interesting art, great people-watching and — if you get there early enough — drinks and snacks. What’s not to like?

2. Meet the author: We’re very fortunate to have two top-tier independent bookstores in town: Changing Hands in Tempe (and soon, Phoenix), and The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. Both stores draw fantastic authors to the Valley on a regular basis. Special events like the Brandeis National Committee Book & Author Luncheon also offer readers a chance to interact with their favorite authors. This year, instead of just reading books, I’m going to go hear the people who write them.

3. Get out of town: There are interesting things to see all over Arizona, from the prestigious Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson and the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg to the monthly art walk in historic Jerome and the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village in Sedona. The summer is the perfect time to head out for a higher altitude and a new experience.

4. Sit in the dark: I’m a huge movie buff, and Valley film festivals are a great way to see independent, foreign and hard-to-find pictures. Our own Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival is celebrating its 18th year in February and has a great lineup planned. Other festivals that always have fantastic selections are the Phoenix Film Festival, held in April, and the Scottsdale International Film Festival in October.

5. Try something new: I’ve lived in the Valley for more than 20 years and there are still museums I’ve never visited and theater companies I’ve never patronized. This year, I’m going to broaden my horizons a bit and try out some new places.

6. Save when I can: All this culture has the potential to get expensive, but there are a number of ways to have fun on the cheap. The Act One Culture Pass program is still available at local libraries; check out a pass for one of 15 Valley cultural attractions, and you get free admission for two or four people for a week. Institutions like Phoenix Art Museum and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art offer free admission on certain days, while others, like the ASU Art Museum, are always free. There’s a lot to see for very little money if you know how to do it.

7. Splurge when necessary: Some cultural experiences are expensive, and there’s no way around it, but I need to remember that a ticket price doesn’t just buy a few hours of entertainment — it buys a memory and an experience that has the potential to stay with me forever. Some 2014 performances I have my eye on are “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” at ASU Gammage, and the APS Pops series at Phoenix Symphony, which includes tributes to Marvin Hamlisch, the Academy Awards and the music of James Bond.

8. Take advantage: There is so much to do and see in town, and very little of it stays around for very long — movies close, plays leave, exhibitions end. In the coming year, I’ll be devoting myself to taking advantage of all the Valley has to offer.

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