My father's firm was one of the sponsors for tonight's fundraiser for Columbia Festival of the Arts at Toby's Dinner Theatre. He couldn't use his tickets so he offered them to Indiana Jane and I. From the ages of 14 to 16, I worked as a bus boy at Toby's, and looked forward to actually seeing a show rather than asking whether or not people were finished with their salad, so we quickly said "yes."
Ken Ulman was there (almost literally ran into him, actually) and gave a great speech before the show about how the arts were always meant to be a valued component of Columbia's downtown, and how Toby Orenstein had worked with the Council in making sure the new plans for our "there there" incorporated that mission. He then noted how, on a personal level, the arts had played a large role in helping his own daughter's self esteem.
I've never been a hard hearted conservative, but I would normally put myself in the camp that says when cuts need to be made, the arts are not sacrosanct. However, I will say that Ken's speech gave me a tilt of the head to remind me why the arts are critical for our youth. I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due, and I think Ken was able to "bring it home" for the people that were there as to why it is important to support this organization.
The show itself was fantastic. During my time as a bus boy, I saw many a show in the Octagon, but this one was one of the most vibrant and active I had ever seen. We had to leave early due to Indiana Jane's paper grading schedule, but I can highly recomment the first act. If the second act is depressing and drab, not my fault.