Grumpy Old Man

It was inevitable: FineArtsLA’s Forty Unders program, which was created to get more young people into the audience of performing arts events, has been accused of discrminating against people over 40.

The following is a recent e-mail exchange with a disgruntled reader, who wrote:

I saw a friend had joined your group on FB. Then I saw that you give free tickets to your 40 unders club. What a turn off. That’s one of the things that makes LA such a shitty place to live. Everyone is so age obsessed here. Who cares how old someone is when it comes to the fine arts? Just wait till you’re over 40 and you’ll see how stupid it sounds to promote such a ridiculous idea. Why would you discriminate against anyone because of their age or race or sexual preference or anything else? Hey, what about a whites only club. That sounds like a good idea. ( I hope you realize that was a sarcastic comment).

Forty Unders manager Sam Mendizabal responded:

Ageism is indeed a problem in Los Angeles. But I’ve felt its effects strongest in the pop cultural framework. We do not deal in that. I understand your plight completely, but I believe you misunderstand the nature of our program. The aim of 40 Unders is not to merely “score” free tickets. It is an educational program of sorts aimed at enlightening younger people who otherwise would not have the financial resources or, if they do, the cultural impetus needed to seek out classical performances in Los Angeles.

We at enjoy many of the arts showcases in Los Angeles and are finding it distressing that so many are attended by so few young people. From what many of the artistic directors and performers, as well as my own eyes, have told me, it is indeed a sad state of affairs when you attend a performance of great caliber and find that you are one of only two or three faces among hundreds that are under 40. Where will the audience of tomorrow come from?

The majority of our participants are college students who are more used to top 40 radio than to Beethoven or Liszt. We hope to make regular theater and concert goers of them someday. I can attest that as a young man myself it has done the same for me.

Grumpy Old Man then responded:

I appreciate your response however I’m not impressed with your reasoning. Of course I realize you are trying to attract a younger crowd to your performances, however that does not erase the fact that your program discriminates against people over 40. (the very ones, according to you, that currently support your performances). Your program is in very bad taste and I for one will not support any programs affiliated with from now on.

I would challenge you to come up with another idea to attract a younger audience without alienating people based on their age. Additionally, all age groups suffer financial burdens especially with the current economy, gas prices, etc. Think about it. Your program indeed supports ageism. Until you come up with another way to attract a younger audience by making free tickets available to all age groups I intend to spread the word of your blatant act of discrimination starting with Facebook.

Moral of the story: No good deed goes unpunished.

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