VOICES: How to avoid “cultural FOMO” in 2023

Editor’s Note: This is part of a monthly series from Rodney Veal that will share insights and stories from artists and creatives from all corners of our community. As the host of ThinkTV/CET Connect for nine years and a lifelong artist in his own right, Veal has a front-row seat to the impact our arts community has on the wellbeing of our region. With this series, Ideas & Voices hopes to inspire readers to pursue their own creative endeavors and to support those who make our community better through their artistic contributions.

As we move forward in 2023 after the arctic blasting weather of Christmas and the welcomed relative calm of New Year’s Eve, we can all look forward to our region’s artistic and cultural offerings.

I know that most people adopt New Year’s resolutions, like losing that pandemic weight or finally writing that book (both of which I fully intend to accomplish this year). There is, however, one less-obvious resolution I hope more people adopt: To seek more opportunities to connect and engage with cultural events and activities — and, more importantly, planning to take advantage of those cultural experiences in advance.

Because we have one of the richest artistic and cultural buffets in the Midwest, it is possible to see and experience a performance, exhibition, or conference every day and still have serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) moments.

How many times did you hear from friends about a fantastic event that happened, but somehow it never crossed your radar? While the constraints of time and budget can influence these FOMO moments, we maximize our artistic and cultural experiences by seeking out the unexpected and challenging.

As an art-maker and media host, a lot of my time is spent researching new techniques of movement generation and art construction methods and reading about lived artistic experiences of others to better prepare for our weekly series. If we took more chances on our individual voyages of cultural literacy and inspiration, what would that manifest? If you knew about a significant event in advance, would you add it to your calendar?

To assist others with their resolution, I want to make a preemptive case for upcoming events in our community. Sinclair Community College, where I teach, is the nation’s oldest community college and I take its motto, “find the need and endeavor to meet it,” to heart.

Each year we produce the Black Unity Conference. This event is open to the public, allowing members of the Black community to connect and engage through a day-long series of panels with leading figures in education, business and the arts. A convening that is a gateway to profound conversations about being Black in the Midwest is happening on Feb. 4.

The second event on the horizon is a joint, collaborative presentation by Dayton Live!, where I serve on the board of trustees, and The Human Race Theatre Company, of the National touring production of “A Soldier’s Play.” Many are familiar with the Norman Jewison-directed Academy Award-nominated film adaptation of “A Soldier’s Story.” One rarely gets to see a revival of the source material, let alone one that is a Tony award-winning version for a six-day theatrical run from Feb. 14-19.

These are prime opportunities to explore the rich history and potential of the African-American experience brought to our community by organizations dedicated to being platforms for all voices. All three organizations have information on registering and purchasing tickets on their websites. Importantly, you’ve heard about it in your local newspaper in advance.

In stepping slightly out of our comfort zones, we get to experience the rich tapestry of the human experience: the pain, joy, misery, and humor, among many other emotions that the arts bring to life every time the curtain goes up.

Start the year off right and add these must-see events to your calendar and attend.

Rodney Veal is an artist, choreographer and the host of ThinkTV and CET CONNECT, The Art Show.

About the Author